Solicitor’s assets frozen as €900k in funds go missing

THE High Court has frozen the assets of and suspended a solicitor whom it is alleged has €900,000 missing from his firms’ client accounts.

Mr Justice Peter Charle- ton yesterday made various orders against solicitor Declan J McEvoy after being informed the Law Society’s Fitness to Practise Committee had formed the view the solicitor had acted dishonestly.

The Law Society sought freezing orders against Mr McEvoy after the society’s investigating accountants discovered a deficit of €900,000 in the client accounts of the two firms of which he is principal — William Early Solicitors Haymarket, Carlow and JM McEvoy & Co, the Avenue, Gorey, Co Wexford.

The judge granted orders suspending Mr McEvoy from practising as a solicitor. He further ordered Mr McEvoy not to dispose of any assets in his possession and that no bank should make a payment out of any account in his or his firm’s name.

Solicitor for Mr McEvoy, Kevin O’Doherty, said his client, a solicitor for almost 20 years, was not opposing the proceedings.

The court heard that Mr McEvoy had confirmed at a meeting with the Law Society last week that monies had gone missing and he was fully cooperating with the Society.

Paul Anthony McDermott, Bl for the Law Society, said that Mr McEvoy’s difficulties arose out of claims against JM McEvoy & Co, which he bought from his father a few years ago.

Counsel added that to his credit Mr McEvoy fully accepted the investigative accountant’s findings and was co-operating.

In an affidavit, Seamus McGrath, the senior investigation accountant with the Law Society, said inquiries carried out last month revealed a deficit in William Early’s client account of €500,000 and a €133,000 deficit in JM McEvoy & Co’s client account.

Mr McGrath said Mr McEvoy, through the William Early firm, acted for his mother Angela McEvoy and his sister Claire Swords in relation to the sale of a house they owned in Castleknock, Dublin.

Mr McEvoy obtained an apparently unregistered mortgage on that property of €297,000, notwithstanding the fact he did not own it. The house was subsequently sold for €303,000 and the proceeds of that sale were credited to the solicitor’s own account.

Mr McGrath said that Mr McEvoy’s actions had the effect of increasing the client account deficit by at least another €297,000 leaving a total of €900,000. In addition Mrs Swords submitted a claim to the Solicitor’s Compensation fund for her 50% share of the proceeds of the house sale.

Mr Justice Charleton adjourned the case and made it returnable before the High Court to a date in early October when the new law term commences.

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