The latest issue of the Law Society Gazette has reported the story of a Portlaoise-born solicitor who was struck off for misconduct after leaving three clients short of €1.1 million in a money-lending scheme.
Brendan McNamara, a former partner in the practice of Devitt, Doorley, MacNamara in Roscrea, was struck off by the High Court in January, 2013, for operating what the Law Society’s Sean Guerin BL described as “a form of Ponzi scheme”.
McNamara was receiving money from clients for property purchases, but used the money to pay others in an “informal money-lending scheme” which left three clients at a total loss of around €1.16 million.
McNamara was initially found guilty of misconduct at a disciplinary tribunal in July, 2011.
The tribunal heard that in one case, McNamara gave an undertaking to hold in trust the title of a specific property for Roscrea Credit Union after €270,000 was borrowed. However, no title was obtained and the money drawn down was paid out to moneylenders.
A second client borrowed €170,000 from Bank of Ireland to buy a property over which there was already a charge, which McNamara was aware of. Good title over the property was not received.
In the third case, McNamara received €750,000 for the intended purchase of six units in a development, but only €305,000 of this was paid to the vendor and McNamara failed to obtain good title to the property.
“What Mr McNamara did went beyond gross negligence and was a dereliction of duty,” said Mr Guerin.
McNamara was found guilty, censured and ordered to pay €12,000 to the Law Society’s compensation fund. He was also ordered to pay the whole costs of the society, including witness expenses.
However, the society did not consider this adequate and sought McNamara to be struck-off.
At the High Court on January 21, 2013, Mr Justice Kearns ordered that the name of the respondent solicitor be struck off the roll of solicitors.
The order of the tribunal censuring McNamara and directing him to pay €12,000 to the compensation fund was rescinded, and McNamara was ordered to pay the society the costs of the tribunal and the High Court proceeding.