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Law Society intervenes in legal firm's client account

Law Society intervenes in legal firm's client account

Source: Straits Times
Date Published: 23 May 2019
Author: K.C. Vijayan

It suspects JLC Advisors solicitor of dishonesty; police report made.

Concerns that a lawyer at JLC Advisors may have been dishonest have prompted the Law Society to urge other law practices to send in details about any of their clients' money that JLC may be holding.

The Law Society yesterday confirmed to The Straits Times that it has intervened in the firm's client account, saying: "As a result of information received... the Council of the Law Society has reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of a solicitor in JLC Advisors LLP in connection with that solicitor's practice.

"In the circumstances, the Law Society confirms that it had intervened into JLC Advisors LLP's client account on May 22."

The society's governing council has notified law firms with pending matters relating to JLC's client account to provide details about the amount of client money held, and to whom and when it is to be paid.

Under the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society can intervene in certain circumstances, including when there is suspected dishonesty, when a lawyer is bankrupt or when he has outstanding judgments amounting to $100,000 that he cannot settle within six months.

In a statement last night, JLC said it had been "informed of certain matters pertaining to one of our clients' accounts which we were not previously aware of. This has caused us great concern.

"We have reported the matter to the police and the Law Society, and are cooperating fully with these authorities to resolve the matter."

JLC's spokesman added: "We would like to assure all our many stakeholders, especially our clients, that we place their interests as our highest priority during this difficult time. We will continue to serve all their legal needs or assist to make alternative arrangements when necessary."

Based in Raffles Place, the full-service law firm marked its 10th anniversary last August.

JLC drew notice in a Business Times report earlier this month, which said auditors who reviewed the accounts of Catalist-listed Allied Technologies found the manufacturing company had $33.4 million held in trust by the law firm.

JLC was also holding some $1.09 million, which has since been returned, from Asia Box Office (ABO), a ticketing firm in which Allied Technologies has a majority stake.

They raised concerns over the business rationale for maintaining the funds with JLC for a prolonged period, when there was no clear purpose to doing so and no interest generated for Allied Technologies.

The auditors also said there is a formal escrow agreement between Allied Technologies and JLC, but that no such agreement existed between ABO and the law firm.

"Instead, the trust account is operated by the law firm based on verbal instruction from Allied Tech's executive director, Mr Kenneth Low. The auditors also flagged that there is credit risk involved, and that the recovery of Allied Tech's funds remains outstanding to date," said the Business Times report.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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