Image of person with a bag full on money

Private client paralegal banned after taking money from client account

A paralegal has been banned from working in a legal practise without the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) prior approval after dishonestly obtaining substantial sums of money for herself and her sister, as reported in the Law Society Gazette.

The SRA’s guidance on “acting with honesty” states that “the courts have made clear that the standard of honesty required for solicitors is that they may be ‘trusted to the ends of the earth’”.

The guidance also states that “a finding that someone we regulate has acted dishonestly is a serious matter”.

Amina Begum worked at a private client department on a probate file until January 2020, when her employment ended. Begum made a backdated letter, updated the estate accounts to “include a payment of £12,945.50 to her sister”, and approved the payment without a legitimate invoice while working on the file.

The Gazette stated that “the SRA said the letter, which was dishonestly dated, falsely suggested her sister was owed the sum for services rendered. She arranged the payment into her sister’s bank account from client money held by the firm, creating a shortfall in the client account”.

She misrepresented the ownership of her bank account to the private client department and “fabricated the signatures of the two executors of the estate” to make it appear that the payment instructions were approved by them when they were not.

In the same article, the regulator said:

“Ms Begum’s conduct was serious. She has been found to have been dishonest on several occasions to obtain, by deception, substantial sums of money either for her sister or herself that belonged to the estate of a client of Bourne Harris.

It is undesirable for Ms Begum to be involved in a legal practice without the SRA’s prior written consent.”

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