Posted on: March 20, 2023, 09:23h.
Last updated on: March 20, 2023, 09:30h.
An aspiring lawyer in the UK will, in a few years, be an older, out-of-work former prison inmate unable to practice law. While finishing his education to become a licensed attorney, Tauseef Sadeeq decided to embezzle funds at the law firm where he was an apprentice, using the money to gamble.
Last week, a court judge convicted the 31-year-old of stealing £100,000 (US$121,770) of client compensation. His dishonesty caused significant harm to the law firm, damaging its reputation in the legal community.
Sadeeq was previously employed at Jacob Miller Solicitors, a personal injury firm located in Bolton, a town in Greater Manchester. He began working there as a paralegal before being promoted to the position of trainee. Interestingly, Sadeeq was the first trainee ever appointed at the firm and could be the last.
Pattern of Deception
Last week, the would-be lawyer admitted to committing fraud 20 times by exploiting his position at the law firm. Over a year, he defrauded multiple insurance companies by presenting his personal NatWest bank account information instead of the company’s to receive payments. He successfully siphoned off up to £8,000 (US$9,741) at a time through the scam.
Sadeeq was able to get the bank to transfer to him £100,437 (US$122,302). He took another £2,000 (US$2,435) from the company. When the law firm found out in March 2021, it let him go and pressed charges.
His ruse came to an end during a regular audit of the company’s books. Two payments seemed out of place and he tried to sidestep questions from the firm’s accountants. When asked about the funds received earlier, his initial statement was that the money was meant to cover the previous payments. He later retracted his claim and said the transfers had been authorized erroneously.
Following this revelation, an office manager requested copies of payment request forms but received only fabricated documents. That led to a deeper investigation and Sadeeq’s dismissal and date with the penal system.
Instead of owning up to his inability to control himself, Sadeeq blamed it all on gambling. Daily, he had succumbed to the allure of the game, wracking up debts that he simply couldn’t afford to pay.
He told the court that out of desperation, he resorted to stealing from his own company to cover his mounting losses. As a result, he’ll now have two years behind bars to break the gambling habit.
Law Firm on the Brink
Following the unacceptable behavior demonstrated by Sadeeq, the company promptly implemented a comprehensive strategy aimed to restore trust with its clients and the general public. The strategy entailed the recruitment of two highly qualified lawyers who would specifically focus on resolving the damages arising from the incident.
Hasib Khan, the firm’s director, told the court that due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the company had already been experiencing substantial financial losses. Sadeeq’s actions exacerbated the situation and its partners had to pay £400,000 (US$487,080) out of pocket to cover the losses. This led to the firm laying off eight employees.
Things got worse from there. When the incident happened, it made its way through the news, causing damage to the reputation of the law firm. In light of this, many of the firm’s clients severed their business ties with the company.
The judge, Martin Walsh, said that Sadeeq was guilty of a “considerable and gross breach of trust.” He’s not alone; even the wayward would-be lawyer’s brother can no longer trust him. The sibling was on his way to becoming a police officer but had his application pulled due to the crimes.