Prison sentence for solicitor who overcharged client's estate

Thursday, 20 November 2014
A Welsh solicitor has received a five-year jail sentence for charging GBP1 million of fraudulent fees to a deceased client's estate.

John Owen ran a small practice in Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. He was one of three executors originally appointed by a local farmer, John Williams, to handle his estate. However, by the time Williams died in 1997, the other two executors had died.

Williams had no family and had left his whole estate, including the proceeds of the sale of his farm, to charity.

This, it is claimed, enabled Owen to bill the estate for work he did not do, in order to help his struggling law firm survive its financial difficulties.

The fraud continued for eight years, until one of Owen's employees noticed the leakage of funds from the estate account and reported it to the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2011. Owen, who had been the county coroner for 25 years, admitted 17 counts of theft and false accounting and was found guilty.

According to news sources, Owen, now aged 79, and his wife have sold their home to repay the estate and an application has also been made against him for a recovery order under the Proceeds of Crime Act.


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