Antony Murphy, 51, was deemed to be “not a fit and proper person to be a solicitor” by a disciplinary tribunal.
He was found to have breached the code of conduct and accounts rules for Scottish solicitors following an investigation which revealed that he cleared £116,200 out of his clients’ accounts.
The Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal described his actions as “serious and reprehensible” and “totally unacceptable”.
Murphy, from Hamilton, a former partner in the firms Murphy & Company, Murphy Wallace LLP and Wallace Construction Law, had acted as agent for a property company set up to manage and build a new housing development.
The company sold a number of flats off-plan before going bust.
The tribunal heard that in March 2006, Murphy prepared the missives for the sale of the properties, collecting deposits averaging more than £6,000 from each of the 12 off-plan purchases.
However, once lawyers acting on behalf of the purchasers contacted a conveyancing solicitor to i0nquire about the progress of the development, he informed them that project had been scrapped. But only £2,000 was returned to each buyer.
Following court proceeding against the company – after which Murphy himself was paid a fee of £50,000 plus VAT – further payments of £2,000 were made to the individuals who had paid deposits to reserve a property, but all were left out of pocket.
Tribunal chairman, Alistair Cockburn said: “Given the findings of professional misconduct made, the tribunal had no hesitation in striking the respondent’s name from the roll of solicitors in Scotland.
“A solicitor who acts in this way is not acting honestly or with personal integrity and is not a fit and proper person to be a solicitor.”