The family firm.
It has such a reassuring sound, redolent of values of client care handed down through the generations, and the energy of youth brought under the careful supervision of wisdom. The very best traditions of the local small firm, a foundation stone of the community.
Karim Solicitors, consisting of Imran Karim (40), supposedly senior partner, his sister Saira (39) and their mother Shamim (65) have all been struck off the roll in one fell swoop, after leaving a trail of dishonesty proceedings and panicking liability insurers behind them.
Exhibit A, Zurich Professional Ltd v Karim & others, (see page 3 of this pdf) in which Zurich sought, successfully, to avoid liability on claims for misappropriated funds by clients on the basis that the claims arose out of dishonesty and/or fraud, primarily by the first defendant, Shamim Karim, who was found to be the controlling power behind the firm. For the detailed factual background to this case see paras 28 – 33 of this account [PDF]
Exhibit B, the SDT, following a nine year long investigation, struck all three off the roll (in their absence). Dishonest use of clients’ money, to the tune of £840,000 was not the only problem.
The money, Imran said, had been spent by him on “a Rolex, loose women and drink”. However, his sister Saira took a more prudent approach and invested her money in business ventures, including the ‘Miss Nude UK’ beauty contest. [See BBC story here, featuring Saira as ‘founder’]
Sadly ‘Miss Nude UK’ proved to be the beginning of their downfall, when in 1999, company documents for the ‘beauty contest’ arrived at the Law Society in an envelope from Karim Solicitors, who then denied all knowledge.
Imran and Saira had put all the blame on Mommy Dearest, who had been found to be the dominant force in Zurich v Karim, but, as in that case, the manner in which the brother and sister had corruptly permitted Shamim to run the firm was enough to damn them. All three were culpable. Interim costs order of £75,000 made.
The Karims have the right to appeal the SDT decision and are apparently intending to do so.
[edit 13 June] This just gets better. See this newspaper story. Imran had a serious premiership footballer and Krystal habit. Saira set up Miss Nude UK with Nick Reynolds, the son of Great Train Robber Bruce ‘Butch’ Reynolds. Despite being on Sky TV, Miss Nude UK wasn’t enough to rescue the situation, particularly as Saira had also also put money into a ‘failed music business’.
Mind you, there was the alleged apartment in New York and the ‘large home in Esher’ (Ahh, fragrant Esher) to console her. Document shredding and claims of being authorised to take mortgage holders money (Eh?) were not enough of a defence.
After a series of raids beginning in 1999 investigators found £450,000 had been misappropriated from the proceeds of a house sale belonging to clients Mr K and Miss D.
A further £390,000 had been taken from mortgage cash advanced by Northern Rock to Mrs Binu Govindan, who sold her home in Brighton Road, Purley and was buying a property on Woodcote Valley Road.
I’ve said it before and will say it again, it is always the conveyancers you have to watch…