Lawyer jailed for 5 years over multi-million dollar theft

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A lawyer who siphoned nearly $5m was trying to appear more successful in his legal practice, Victorian Supreme Court judge Betty King said in the sentencing of Alan Munt this morning.

Munt was sentenced to at least five years in jail after pleading guilty to 27 charges including theft and obtaining property by deception in February this year.

Following an investigation by the Legal Services Board, Munt was found to have created false documents and forged the signatures of his clients, siphoning a total of $4,819,061.90 over a period of around 11 years, The Australian reported.

“Your behaviour in this case was appalling. It was predatory, manipulative and scheming,” said Justice King. “There is no doubt that you have abused the trust of so many of your clients, family, friends and even your staff.”

Following the refusal by Victorian police to investigate the case, the victims of Munt’s actions waited more than five years for the case to be heard following the refusal of police to investigate the case. Justice King said the wait for those involved was unacceptable and criticised Victorian police for the delay in proceedings.

“It is a sad indictment on the priorities of a policing organisation that they claim they cannot conduct an investigation into large sums of money stolen by a solicitor from members of the public, due to having inadequate resources, or other problems,” she said. “The public have been very poorly served by all of the organisations involved in this investigation, but I am particularly critical of the Victoria Police for putting resourcing issues ahead of the investigation of very serious criminal offending.”

Munt will now serve at least five and a half years of his eight-year sentence before he is eligible for parole. 
  • Ian Dunn on 8/05/2015 6:13:54 PM

    This has been happening forever ! When I was at the LIV from 1996-2002 we referred disgraced solicitors to police immediately but thereafter nothing happened. I complained to relevant Ministers but to no effect. When matters came before a judge after perhaps 7/8 years a reduced sentence was often imposed because of delay. It really is intolerable.

  • Ian Dunn on 8/05/2015 4:03:42 PM

    The delay by police has continued for at least 20 years. The LIV always referred matters to police ASAP . But we became mightily frustrated when no action was taken for years. When CEO of the LIV from 1996 to 2002 I wrote to Ministers pointing out the situation. Yet judges were sentencing solicitors 7 or 8 years after the event, sometimes imposing reduced sentences because of prosecution delay. It really is disgraceful!

  • Nerida Wallace on 16/04/2015 10:22:56 AM

    Justice King’s sentencing remarks clarify that the LIV acted immediately once trust account concerns were raised with us. See the full sentencing remarks here
    LIV inspectors delivered a comprehensive report to the police within a short time of becoming aware of the conduct. On the more general issue of defalcations, complaints are now investigated by the Legal Services Board and Commissioner. The protection of the public is always the principal concern for LIV trust inspectors.

  • William on 9/04/2015 2:53:18 PM

    The L.I.V. was very reluctant to refer matters to the police.
    Why was this matter not picked up by auditors ?
    Defalcations of over $1m come to mind which were not prosecuted but treated merely as a disciplinary hearing.

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