Australia: Jailed lawyer who ‘robbed Peter to pay Paul’ struck off

Header Image: District Court Judge Andrew Haesler

Lawyers Weekly Australia

Nigel Ian Duncan’s name was removed from the roll four and a half years after he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for two counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage.

The first charge arose out of the misappropriation of funds from 23 deceased estates, which led to a financial advantage of $730,010.

The second related to Duncan’s fraudulent transfers between various deceased estates to cover up the prior misappropriates, resulting in a financial gain of just over $1,390,442 to Duncan personally.

District Court Judge Andrew Haesler sentenced Duncan to three years and nine months behind bars, with a non-parole period of two years.

In making the order, NSW Supreme Court’s Justice Jeremy Kirk, acting Justice John Basten, and Court of Appeal president Julie Ward said there was no doubt Duncan “is not a fit and proper person to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities of a solicitor”.

At the time of the offending, Duncan was employed as a senior solicitor specialising in property, business, and wills and estates out of Maguire & McInerney Lawyers’ Wollongong and Shellharbour offices.

After a client complaint revealed irregularities in Duncan’s estate work, the firm widened the search and discovered he had misappropriated funds from the estate of one client to pay a costs order made against another client and Duncan personally.

A Law Society investigator then uncovered another 120 instances of misappropriations from 23 deceased estates over six years.

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