The Law Society has secured interim orders, on consent, freezing the accounts of a solicitor after he disclosed a client account deficit which he estimated at between €300,000 and €400,000.
Barry Murphy, a sole practitioner practising as Eugene Carey & Company Solicitors, Courthouse Chambers, Mallow, Co Cork, had also admitted having a “serious gambling problem”, it was stated in documents provided to the president of the High Court.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told Mr Murphy was consenting to various interim orders, including freezing his accounts and suspending him from practising. The judge made those orders on Thursday and returned the case to later this month.
Niamh O’Connell, an investigating accountant with the society, said in an affidavit Mr Murphy had admitted to a serious gambling problem. He said he originally used monies from his office account to fund his habit .
He had said, when he won, he would put money back into the client account. After his office facility was withdrawn by his bank in mid March, he then only had access to the client account and he said he operated a personal credit account for his gambling .
The Society’s Regulation of Practise Committee formed the opinion Mr Murphy was guilty of dishonesty in his practise in allowing a minimum deficit of €349,437 arise on the client account as of June 28 last, she said.
Mr Murphy disclosed the client account deficit to two clients and the Law Society earlier this week when he was unable to provide some €319,000 needed by the clients to close a sale, she said.
Mr Murphy said he only has €100,000 left in his client account and admitted to having considerable debts. He further stated his online banking facility was withdrawn by his bank in late March or early April and his office overdraft facilities around mid-March.
Ms O’Connell, an accountant in the society’s regulation department, said Mr Murphy was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in 2008.
Following a phone disclosure by him on June 27 to the society’s senior investigating accountant, Ms O’Connell said she attended at the solicitor’s offices to inspect the accounts and had prepared an interim investigation report.
She was advised by Mr Murphy there was adeficit on the client account of between €300,000 and €400,000, she said. None of the books were up to date and not all the bank statements were present, so it was difficult to quantify the deficit at this time, she said.
The books of account were in arrears and had been last posted for July 2015 when the solicitor’s book keeper left.
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