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Thursday 15 November 2018

Criminal Assets Bureau reports two solicitors to Law Society regulators

Law Society director general Ken Murphy. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Law Society director general Ken Murphy. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has passed information on two solicitors to the Law Society after becoming concerned about the work they were carrying out for clients who were targets of the bureau.

The agency is understood to have referred the cases of two solicitors in recent months to the society, which is the regulatory body for the legal profession.

However, the Law Society has indicated that it will not be taking further action on foot of the information from the bureau.

In a statement to the Sunday Independent, it said there was "insufficient legal and factual basis" to take disciplinary proceedings.

The offices of professional advisers are frequently raided by the CAB during its investigations into white-collar crime and money-laundering, but this is routinely to secure files and paperwork related to their suspects and does not reflect on the professionals involved.

However, in one exception, bureau officers criticised an accountant whose clients included suspected members of a gang linked to the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

The accountant's offices were raided as a part of a wider probe into the gang's finances but bureau officers claimed in an affidavit that the accountant was "evasive, unprofessional and unco-operative".

One of the country's biggest law firms, Matheson, has launched an app called Dawn Raid, which advises companies on how to prepare for and react to searches, warning that Irish and EU regulators can now forcibly enter a business or home, demand information and seize records.

An article in the latest issue of the Law Society Gazette informs readers that "any business fearing a dawn raid on suspicion of white-collar crime" can get help from the app, which is "a tool for crisis management and training".

The app gives "step-by-step guidance for how to behave during a raid, and awareness training of raid protocol ahead of time. There will also be push-button access to Matheson lawyers embedded in the tool".

In a statement to the Sunday Independent, Law Society director general Ken Murphy said: "The CAB has provided information to the Law Society about two solicitors. These were not complaints.

"Upon investigation, neither of these matters were referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal as there was insufficient legal and factual basis to take disciplinary proceedings.

"For legal reasons, the Law Society is unable to comment further."

Sunday Independent

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