A former paralegal at legacy top 50 U.K. firm BLM has been sentenced to three years and three months imprisonment after stealing £437,598 from the firm.
Paul Young was found to have falsely represented to Aviva that interim payments were due on insurance claims that he was the claim handler of, directing them to his own bank account to fuel his gambling habit.
As it was an automated system, the payments were accepted by Aviva without any checking. In his opening address, prosecuting counsel Henry Blackshaw added: “Similarly at BLM there were no checking payment requests against the case files. [Young] was expected to act with honesty, as expected for all employees in the business.”
Young had arranged 116 payments to his bank accounts over three years, worth a total of £437,598 which BLM had to pay back to Aviva, the prosecutor said.
Young worked as a paralegal in BLM’s Manchester office between January 2016 and June 2019, on a salary of £24,500.
BLM was first made aware of possible problems in November 2018 when a payment of £5,099 had been paid to an incorrect bank account, on the instruction of Young. An internal investigation took place, but at the time they had not checked the payee account, Young was disciplined and received a final warning.
Then in Summer 2019 it became apparent to BLM that Young was using the Aviva automated system and ensuring payments were not made to claimants and Young was fired in June 2019.
In May 2020, Manchester-based Young was issued with a work restriction order by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, meaning he would need to obtain permission from the SRA to work within the legal industry in future.
In a statement on Monday, BLM said: “Paul Young was dismissed from BLM when it was established that his actions breached both his contract of employment and the SRA’s Code of Conduct. Mr Young’s conduct was immediately reported to the SRA and to Greater Manchester Police. Following a criminal investigation during which Mr Young pleaded guilty, he has been sentenced to 3 years and 3 months. We will always take a hard stance against theft and welcome the outcome.
“BLM has robust financial procedures in place to prevent any such incidents happening at the firm.”
Law.com International was unable to contact Young.
In March, BLM agreed to merge with Clyde & Co.