Lawyer agrees to leave profession after using $25,000 in trust

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A 90-year-old Melbourne solicitor sees his legal career come to an end after he took $25,000 held on trust for a client.
 
Alexander Koltay told a disciplinary tribunal that he will never again engage in legal practice.
 
The money came from $30,000 he received on behalf of a client, the husband in a family law proceeding.
 
He told his client in writing that he needs instructions on how to forward the cash which was part of a Family Court property dispute settlement in July 2007, less $5,000 as fees.
 
Koltay did not hear back from the client. It turns out the client was out of the country from July 2007 to March 2014 to take care of his elderly mother.
 
Upon the client’s return to Australia, he asked Koltay for his money back. However, Koltay could not pay the money back and as of April 2014, only $36 was left of.
 
Koltay initially loaned the $30,000 to the Dar-Alawda (Wendel Street) Community Centre Inc (the Community Centre). That group repaid $25,500 of the loan.
 
Koltay then utilised that money for his own business purposes, such as covering his overdraft, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found.
 
Koltay, who has practised law for 69 years, agreed to never renew his practicing certificate which expired on June 30 or to ever practice law in any Australian jurisdiction at any time in the future.
 
Koltay also agreed to pay back his client the $25,000 he owed and the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner $9,000 in costs.
 
“This is a sad way for his career to end,” said Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal senior member Jonathan Smithers in the decision that found Koltay guilty of two professional misconduct charges.
 
“He has never had any disciplinary findings made against him until now. His financial circumstances are not good. He is on a pension,” Smithers said.
 
Smithers stressed that Koltay’s act “undermined the trust which the community has in the legal profession” and also “deprived his client of $25,000.”

Criminal charges were also filed against the senior but these were ultimately withdrawn.
 

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