Prominent Black lawyer jailed for fraud

| July 15, 2014

Community news. One of Britain’s top black lawyers was today jailed for stealing £75,000 from his clients to prop up his diamond business.

Michael Webster, 49, took tens of thousands of pounds from the client account of his firm Webster Dixon LLP, which made history as first company founded by black lawyers in the City of London.

He then funnelled the cash into the account of a business associate who hoped to make money on diamonds in Ghana.

When the deal failed to go through, he tried to take out a loan to cover the loss, but was arrested after his bookkeeper spotted discrepancies in his accounts.

Disgraced Michael Webster. Photo courtesy

Disgraced Michael Webster. Photo courtesy

Today Webster, a former chairman of the Black Solicitors Network, has been jailed for eight months after pleading guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position at London’s Old Bailey.

The court heard that the lawyer had made four withdrawals totalling £75,605.57 from the client account at Webster Dixon LLP between December 3, 2012, and February 1, 2013.

Lee Ingham, prosecuting, said the law firm had been in financial difficulty at the time.

He told the court: ‘What Webster was really doing was speculating with someone else’s money. The firm was suffering financially and that is the primary motivation.’

He added that the diamond deal had, in fact, turned out to be an advance fee fraud operated by criminals in Ghana.

Webster, a former lawyer at Lehman Brothers International, set up his own firm in 1998 after four years as a partner at Conway & Co. Solicitors.

He was named in the Lawyer Magazine ‘Hot 100’ in 2004 and described as ‘one of an influential new generation’ of lawyers.

In July that year, he was elected as a Council Member of the Law Society and the following year, he joined the board of the City of London Law Society.

In November 2007, Webster was elected chairman of the Black Solicitors Network, the largest organisation for minority lawyers in Europe.

He also spent four years as secretary for the Society of Black Lawyers.

Tyrone Smith, defending, told the court that Webster’s good character and references from dozens of fellow lawyers, including a former President of the Law Society, meant he should be spared jail.

He said: ‘This man has been broken by his conduct. He will never be able to practise in the job he loves, his standing amongst his friends is indelibly stained by his actions.

He has brought the good name of his family into disrepute. There is not a day that goes by that he doesn’t consider it.’

He added that the lawyer had always intended for the money to be returned to the client account once the diamond deal had been successful.

‘The firm stood to receive significant fees for the success of the deal,’ he said. ‘This is not a case where there is a simple taking of clients’ money to enrich the defendant.’

But Judge Nic Madge told Webster that his behaviour had been so serious that he had no option but to send him to prison.

‘You have let yourself down… you have let your clients down. You have thrown away what you have worked so very hard to achieve’ Judge Nic Madge

He told me: ‘You abused a position of trust not just as a solicitor but as a compliance officer for finance and administration in the firm.

‘I accept the motivation for the fraud was financial pressure. This is a personal tragedy for you and your family.

‘You have let yourself down, you have let your family down. You have let your professional partners and your clients down. You have thrown away what you have worked so very hard to achieve.’

Webster, from Streatham Hill, south London, was originally accused of plundering a total £104,000, but the prosecution later admitted the true figure was £75,605.57.

He has already paid back £27,000 and has promised to repay the rest of the money.

He also faces being struck off by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Article courtesy

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: African Caribbean, Anguilla News, Antigua News, Bahamas News, Barbados News, British Virgin Islands News, Business, Culture & Society, Dominica News, Grenada News, Guyana News, Hot Topics, Jamaica News, Lifestyle, Martinique News, Montserrat News, St Vincent and the Grenadines News, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia News, St. Maarten News, Trinidad News

About the Author (Author Profile)

We provide news and information for anyone interested in the Caribbean whether you’re UK based, European based or located in the Caribbean. New fresh ideas are always welcome with opportunities for bright writers.

Comments are closed.