Conveyancer struck off after money laundering conviction

Conveyancer struck off after money laundering conviction



The conveyancer, Stephen Michael Oakley, was convicted in 2018 on counts including failing to comply with money laundering regulations and not surrendering to bail.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) heard a case between the SRA and Oakley in August. The SDT agreed that, while no dishonesty has been alleged against Oakley, and there is no suggestion he benefited from mortgage fraud, he ought to be struck off the Roll of Solicitors.

Oakley self-reported his conviction to the SRA as soon as permissible, in March 2019. He had delayed for five months owing to Court reporting restrictions pending the trial of his client and others for mortgage fraud.

The fraud case hinged on his clients raising funds to buy a property through a commercial bank loan and from other third parties.

Oakley was found to have failed to undertake appropriate due diligence on the origin of the third-party monies. At the time, he was a director and the money laundering officer at Oakley and Davies Limited, a Cardiff firm he jointly owned.

Her Honour Judge Rees, sentencing Oakley in 2018, said: “You had taken on the prime responsibility for making sure that the firm assisted. . . in preventing anybody laundering criminal money by the way of transactions, in particular the acquiring of property.

“You have accepted you knew what your responsibilities were. You had had training.

“You appear to have been cavalier in relation to these particular transactions in that you did not keep proper records or make proper enquiries in your gatekeeping role,” Judge Rees said.

The SDT heard the case that Oakley’s convictions had breached specific SRA Principles. It concluded that he was entirely culpable for his actions and that his criminal conviction harmed the reputation of the profession.

Oakley admitted to each of the SRA’s allegations.

He was ordered to pay the SRA’s costs of £2,000. He had already paid £7,201.28 contribution towards the prosecution’s costs in the earlier case.

The SDT noted: “The respondent [Oakley] would like to state that the length of time since the events and the investigation by the police and now the SRA has had a significant effect on my self esteem.”

Oakley had practised property conveyancing since becoming a solicitor in 1985. Oakley and Davies Limited ceased trading in 2011 and Oakley has not practiced as a solicitor since then.