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Law partner gambled his client's €2.4m on markets

The High Court has suspended a partner of a law firm and has frozen the practice's bank accounts after being informed that €2.4m is missing from the firm's client's funds.

The court heard that Ruairi O'Ceallaigh, a partner and solicitor in the firm Sean O'Ceallaigh and Co, and who has admitted the wrongdoing, gambled the money, half of which was left to the Catholic Church, on stocks and shares.

He was also involved in the double mortgaging of four properties in which his brother and fellow partner in the firm, Cormac O'Ceallaigh (37), had given undertakings to AIB.

Yesterday at the High Court Mr Justice Peter Charleton suspended the practising certificate and froze the bank accounts of Ruairi O'Ceallaigh (39), a partner in the firm of The Old Bank, Phibsborough, Dublin 7.

However he dismissed the Law Society's application to make similar orders against Cormac O'Ceallaigh.

He said there was no evidence to suggest that Cormac was anything other than an innocent party in what had occurred. Cormac, the judge held, had acted as "a responsible solicitor."

Patrick Leonard, for the Law Society, said that last week the society had been contacted by the firm and informed there was a deficit in the client account. Some €2.4m was missing, most of which was from the estate of man who left money to the Archbishop of Dublin. Counsel added that the total liability may be over €4m.

The judge adjourned the matter for two weeks.