A SOLICITOR who misappropriated €1.4million of client funds - and bought a €19,000 grand piano as well as paying over personal credit card debts - has been struck off by the High Court.
Paul D Madden apologised to his former clients for what he had done.
Mr Madden, formerly practising as Paul Madden & Co Solicitors, The Diamond, Clones, Co Monaghan, had a sophisticated system involving a fictitious client file and false documents which had fooled the Revenue and accountants for years, the court heard.
A Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) made a number of findings of professional misconduct against him in relation to the deficit of €1.4million in client funds in 2013 including that he paid credit card bills in 2006 and purchased a Bechstein grand piano for €19,800 in August 2006.
Findings of misconduct were also made in relation to failures to comply within a reasonable time to undertakings given in relation to his clients and several properties.
Seeking the strike off order, Paul Anthony Mc Dermott, BL, for the Law Society, told the court the very sophisticated system involved a fictional client file with false documents.
Mr Madden accepted he was motivated by unnecessary greed, counsel said.
To date, over €1 million had been paid out to Mr Madden's former clients in compensation by the Law Society, he said.
Counsel added this was one of more serious cases to come before the Law Society's disciplinary process.
In a statement to the court, Mr Madden said he was truly sorry for any embarrassment he had caused to the legal profession, to his family and staff, none of whom knew what was happening.
He also apologised to his former clients who had placed their trust in him.
He said he had mismanaged a situation and was truly sorry.
When the economic downturn struck, he was trying to run a small practice in a rural area and had "committed the ultimate sin" and it "was like a ball rolling down the hill."
He said in relation to a sum of €156,000, it had been put back in to the client account in 2009.
Referring to the €1.4million, Mr Madden said he was trying to keep his office going and he had been fully frank with the Law Society and identified client files for it.
He had tried to be forthright with the Society "and correct the wrong I have committed."
He added: "I can't make it up to those I have offended. I want to wholeheartedly apologise to the people, the local people."
Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns struck him off the roll of solicitors.