SDT to probe former Clydes partner over 'improper' money transfer claims

A former partner in Clyde & Co’s Guildford office has been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) over an alleged “improper” transfer of funds.

Charles Smith was a litigation partner in Clydes’ Guildford office between 2013 and 2015. He subsequently stepped down from the partnership and became a consultant in 2015.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) opened the original case in March 2016.

Smith has been accused of instructing or permitting an improper transfer of money from Clyde’s client account to its office account.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “We are aware of the Solicitors Regulation Authority decision in relation to Charles Smith, a junior partner at the firm from May 2013 to November 2015. The decision relates to how Charles, in his capacity as a department risk partner, processed a number of aged residual client account balances on historic cases. At the time we were working with the Solicitors Regulation Authority to improve our processes in this area. It would not be appropriate to comment further while the tribunal is pending.”

In April, Clydes was hit by a £50,000 fine by the SDT and three of its partners were fined £10,000 each for breaching money laundering rules, by allowing the firm’s client account to be used as a banking facility.

This equalled the £50,000 fine handed to West End firm Fulgers in 2014, then the largest fine levied by the SDT.

This was surpassed in July, when White & Case was fined £250,000 for “reckless” conflict of interest and confidentiality failures in connection with its representation of Ukrainian client Victor Pinchuk in a High Court case.