Fraud charges cast ‘dark cloud’ over legal profession following probe

Christine Smyth

Fraud charges levelled against three members of Queensland’s legal fraternity cast a “dark cloud” over the profession but don’t necessarily suggest an endemic problem, the Queensland Law Society says.

The Crime and Corruption Commission revealed on Saturday three men had been arrested and taken to the Brisbane watchhouse, where they were charged with criminal offences.

A 48-year-old Upper Brookfield man was charged with aggravated fraud, as well as eight counts of fraudulent falsification of records, while a 32-year-old from Camp Hill and a 29-year-old Toowong man are also facing one count each of aggravated fraud.

In a statement, the CCC said it was continuing to investigate “suspected criminal activity” within elements of the legal profession in Queensland as part of a joint probe with the police.

QLS president Christine Smyth said the charges had links to the matter of high- profile Brisbane solicitor Tim Meehan, who had acted for Daniel Morcombe’s killer and was jailed for fraud and falsifying records in July this year.

She said while the allegations had cast a “dark cloud” over the broader legal community, it was important to remember there were thousands of ethical practitioners at work in the state.

“In any walk of life … you’re going to have from time to time allegations of crime,” she told AAP.

“Of course that’s disappointing.”

All three of the men were connected to a single law firm, Ms Smyth said, adding two were solicitors and therefore had 14 days to notify the QLS of the charges.

The men are expected to front the Brisbane Magistrates Court on November 23.

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