A LAWYER from Warrington who failed to report money laundering suspicions over the sale of a £105,000 home in East Lancashire has been allowed to remain practising.
Andrew Tidd, aged 52, was convicted of turning a blind eye alleged to a property deal involving his client, Liverpool criminal Nevzat Kocabey and fraudster Mohammed Khatana in August 2007.
Kocabey had paid the deposits on the property in Brierfield, near Burnley, and another in the Toxteth area of Liverpool, using 'dirty money' and he was later jailed for two years at the city's crown court.
Khatana himself is currently serving an eight-and-a-half year prison term for masterminding a bogus consultancy firm specialising in Proceeds of Crime Act cases.
Tidd, of Hatfield Gardens, Appleton, was given a four-month suspended prison sentence for five offences of failing to report money laundering suspicions involving Kocabey in December 2012.
But the 53-year-old solicitor was able to successfully argue before the Solicitor's Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) that he should be allowed to remain in the profession.
The SDT was told that when Tidd was dealt with at Burnley Crown Court, sentencing judge Andrew Woolman said he believed the investigation and suspended prison sentence were enough punishment for the lawyer.
“It is important to observe that the basis for the pleas of guilty was not that the defendant knew of suspected that (Kocabey) was engaged in money laundering, but that he had reasonable grounds to suspect and that is the lowest level of criminal responsibility..." said Judge Woolman.
The tribunal also heard that Tidd had been made bankrupt when his firm, Yaffe Jackson Ostrin, had ceased trading in May 2012 over an unrelated matter.
He also told the SDT he had accepted an explanation from Kocabey's wife that he was in custody for financial matters rather than drugs offences.
An allegation that Tidd failed to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice was found proven by the SDT fitness to practice panel.
But chairman Jane Martineau said: "The degree of personal culpability on the part of the respondent in this particular case was minimal."
Tidd was fined £2,500 by the panel and an application for costs totalling £1,881 was granted but held in reserve until the solicitor finds fresh employment.