Would-be British lawyer jailed for squandering company money

Posted on: Mar 20, 2023 09:23 am.

Last updated on: March 20, 2023, 09:30 am.

A budding barrister in the UK will in a few years be an elderly unemployed ex-prisoner unable to practice law. While completing his license to practice law, Tauseef Sadeeq decided to embezzle funds from the law firm where he was an apprentice and use the money to gamble.

Tauseef Sadeeq in a British courthouse. Sadeeq faces three years in prison after stealing money from the law firm where he worked. (Image: Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd)

Last week a judge convicted the 31-year-old of stealing £100,000 ($121,770) in customer compensation. His dishonesty caused significant damage to the law firm and damaged its reputation in the legal community.

Sadeeq was previously employed by Jacob Miller Solicitors, a personal injury law firm in Bolton, a Greater Manchester city. He initially worked there as a paralegal before being promoted to trainee. Interestingly, Sadeeq was the first trainee ever to join the company and may be the last.

pattern of deception

Last week, the aspiring lawyer admitted to committing fraud 20 times by taking advantage of his position at the law firm. For over a year, he defrauded several insurance companies by providing his personal NatWest bank account information instead of the company’s to receive payments. He successfully siphoned off up to £8,000 (US$9,741) at a time through the scam.

Sadeeq managed to get the bank to wire him £100,437 (US$122,302). He took another £2,000 (US$2,435) from the company. When the law firm found out about this in March 2021, they let him go and filed a complaint.

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His ruse ended during a periodic audit of company books. Two payments seemed out of place, and he tried to dodge questions from the company’s accountants. When asked about the funds previously received, his first statement was that the money was intended to cover previous payments. He later withdrew his claim, saying the transfers had been wrongly approved.

Following this revelation, an office manager requested copies of payment request forms, but received only forged documents. This led to a deeper investigation and Sadeeq’s release and appointment with the correctional system.

Rather than admit his inability to control himself, Sadeeq blamed gambling. Daily he had succumbed to the lure of the game and accumulated debts he simply could not pay.

He told the court that out of desperation he turned to stealing from his own company to cover his growing losses. As a result, he now has two years behind bars trying to break gambling addiction.

Law firm on the brink

Following Sadeeq’s unacceptable behavior, the company promptly implemented a comprehensive strategy aimed at restoring trust to its customers and the public. The strategy included hiring two highly qualified attorneys who would specifically focus on resolving the damages resulting from the incident.

Hasib Khan, the company’s director, told the court that the company has already suffered significant financial losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Sadeeq’s actions made the situation worse and his partners had to pay £400,000 (US$487,080) out of pocket to cover the losses. This resulted in the company laying off eight employees.

From there it got even worse. When the incident happened, it made the news and damaged the law firm’s reputation. Against this background, many of the firm’s clients have broken off their business relationships with the company.

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Judge Martin Walsh said Sadeeq was guilty of a “material and gross breach of trust”. He is not alone; even the brother of the wayward would-be lawyer can no longer trust him. The sibling was on track to become a police officer, but his application was withdrawn because of the crimes.