Firm Ref: 403765
Sol Ref: 373007
Our Ref: TRI/3320-2010 CF3
ELEN Griffiths (Ad.1 May 2007)
Status: Former Assistant Solicitor employed by John Collins and Partners of Venture Court, Waterside Business Park, Valley Way, Enterprise Park, Swansea SA6 8QP
REGULATORY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
1. Miss Griffiths agrees to the following outcome of the investigation into her professional conduct under reference TRI/3302-2010CF3
2. An inspection by the SRA at the offices of John Collins and Partners commencing in April 2008 culminated in a Forensic Investigation report. The report identified that during 2007 Miss Griffiths had acted for the buyers and sellers of a number of properties. In the transactions identified by the SRA the properties were purchased from developers by companies for which she acted, and immediately sold on to individual purchasers at higher prices. Miss Griffiths failed to address properly the fact that the final purchasers were related in various ways to the companies and to take account of warnings given to solicitors on mortgage fraud and money laundering. Had she done so it might have identified the possibility that such companies were engaged in such activities.
3. On 16 April 2010 an Adjudicator decided to refer the conduct of Miss Griffiths to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ("Tribunal").
3. Miss Griffiths makes the following admissions:
- 3.1 failed to investigate properly the substantial sums of money passing through the client account of John Collins and Partners and that had she asked her client questions about the circumstances relating to their receipt and disbursement she would have been put on inquiry about their authenticity or legitimacy;
- 3.2 failed to investigate or to adequately consider the possibility that she was being utilised to facilitate money-laundering or mortgage fraud;
- 3.3 failed to have any proper regard to the warnings issued to the solicitors’ profession by the Law Society on money laundering and mortgage fraud.
And as a consequence she compromised her independence and her proper standard of work, and acted in a way that diminished the trust placed by the public in her and the solicitors’ profession in breach of both Rule 1 of the Solicitors Practice Rule s19990 and Of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007.
4. Miss Griffiths had been qualified for less than a year when she conducted the transactions. Further, she was employed by a firm as part of a team of solicitors in which her work was supervised. Her conduct was not deliberate.
5. Miss Griffiths agrees to be is severely reprimanded by the SRA for the breaches identified in paragraph 1 above.
6. Miss Griffiths agrees to pay the SRA’s costs of £15,000 in full by the 20 March 2012.
7. This Regulatory Settlement Agreement will be published by the SRA and may be disclosed by the SRA as it sees fit.
8. Miss Griffiths agrees that she will not act in any way inconsistent with this agreement such as for example by denying the misconduct set out in her admission.
9. If Miss Griffiths acts in any way inconsistent with this agreement all issues may be referred for consideration or referral of her conduct to the Tribunal (or SRA internal decision) on the original facts and allegations and also on the basis that such failure to comply may constitute a breach of Rules 1.2, 1.3, and 1.6 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007.
10. The date of this agreement is 16th January 2012
Miss Elen Griffiths
Head of Legal Policy
Solicitors Regulation Authority