A SOLICITOR who paid more than £500,000 of clients’ money into mystery bank accounts said she and her family had been threatened.
Taslim Khan, 41, said she was acting under duress when she moved £520,000 into the accounts while she was at Rasool Solicitors in Dewsbury.
When police were called to the firm’s office – which has now closed – in Daisy Hill, three men rushed from the building, the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal heard.
Khan’s books were found to be in disarray and she had made payments of £304,000 from mortgage monies forwarded to complete property deals. But the final amount missing from the books was £520,813, said Ian Ryan for the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.
Dr David Rosen, who carried out the inspection of the offices, said the SRA had also called police because it believed files were being removed. He said as he arrived three men pushed past him.
Khan, pictured, said she had been threatened by three different men who had forced her to make a series of payments from clients’ money. She knew them only by their initials – Z, Z, and A.
Dr Rosen said: “She appeared to be frightened and very emotional.”
Khan claimed telephone threats had been made against her and her family.
Khan could not say to which client ledgers the payment had been made, the hearing was told.
Dr Rosen said a police investigation was still continuing.
Khan said she was under emotional pressure because her husband had recently left her and taken two of their children out of the country.
She admitted improperly withdrawing clients’ money, failing to keep her books properly written up, and failing to fulfil undertaking to clients. A charge of dishonesty was dropped.
Mr Ryan said Khan had promised to pay back £150,000 by borrowing from a friend and selling two properties, but that had not happened.
The lawyer said she now lived in rented accommodation and was claiming benefits.
Khan fought back tears as she told the hearing: “I had threats made against me and my family.
“I considered reporting these matters to the police but at that time I was in such a difficult position in my life.”
Tribunal chairman Roger Wolfe said on the balance of probabilities the tribunal had to accept Khan’s defence of duress.
He added: “She did not tell the police or the SRA of the threats made by these men, or the payments she had made, on the basis of those threats.”
Khan, of Brompton Avenue, Bradford, was suspended for 18 months and must pay £9,000 costs.