A FRAUDSTER who moved cheques totalling almost £13,000 from his firm’s account into his own pocket has been dismissed.

Matthew Price, who worked for Ellisons Solicitors, in Head Street, Colchester, was found to have made seven transfers totalling £12,790 from the firm’s client account to his personal bank account.

The investigation was carried out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority which discovered he had written the cheques and copied signatures onto them.

Mr Price had worked in the firm’s accounts department between May 19 2008 and June 15 2020.

A report from the authority said on June 3 last year, the firm’s bank returned a cheque dated June 2, made payable to Mr Price in the sum of £550, which had been drawn from the office bank account.

The firm was concerned about the validity of the signature on the cheque and Mr Price was subsequently suspended from his employment pending further inquiries.

A statement from the Solicitors Regulations Authority said: “Mr Price admitted to making the client account transfers and also admitted that he had drawn a cheque to himself from the firm’s office account in May 2020 and that he had attempted to do the same in June 2020.”

Mr Price has now agreed to the section 43 order given to him by the Solicitors Regulation Authority which means no recognised body shall employ or remunerate him.

The order also means no employee of a solicitor shall employ him in connection with the solicitor’s practice.

The statement added: “Mr Price’s conduct makes it undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice because it was dishonest. It also demonstrates that he poses a risk to client and office money.

“Should Mr Price be involved in legal practice again there is a risk that his conduct could be repeated.”

Mr Price said he was struggling with personal debt and mental health at the time of the misconduct. He has also shown remorse. He has agreed to pay the firm back as well as the £300 investigation cost.

A spokesman for Ellisons Solicitors said: “Ellisons assisted fully with the investigation of Mr Price.

“There was no financial loss to clients as an outcome of Mr Price’s actions. Mr Price was not a solicitor with the firm but worked in the accounts team.”