Press Release – 6 March 2012
We represent Charles Spiropoulos in proceedings at the Southwark Crown Court where he is charged with a number of others with one count of conspiracy to defraud by false representation, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977. Mr Spiropoulos was a solicitor and a partner at Andrews Solicitors in Peckham, London.
Mr Spiropoulos was charged with a number of other people, some of whom we are unable to name for legal reasons. It has always been the defence case that Charles Spiropoulos, whilst working as a solicitor, was randomly approached at Andrews Solicitors by a number of individuals claiming to have been the legal owners and Title holders of:
61 Guy Road, Wallington, Surrey; and
34 Glenn Avenue, Purley, Surrey; and
66 Durnsford Road, Wimbledon, Surrey; and
7 Thirlmere Road, Streatham, London
Those persons purporting to be the owners of these properties presented to Charles Spiropoulos passport identification supporting their claims and appeared to have a detailed knowledge of their respective properties. Mr Spiropoulos conducted all necessary due diligence checks to ascertain that these individuals were who they claimed to be, in accordance with the guidance published at the time by the Law Society of England & Wales and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, in relation to conveyancing transactions. Having had no cause to suspect any malicious intent on the part of those persons he had reason to believe were the owners of these properties, Charles Spiropoulos then proceeded to conduct the conveyancing work associated with these properties and effected the transfers of these properties, in good faith.
Since having been alerted of the fraud, Charles Spiropoulos has assisted the police investigation without hindrance and has co-operated with all law enforcement agencies throughout every stage of their work and investigations, including at the trial. Mr Spirpoulos maintains that he was never in any way involved with or associated with any of the individuals masterminding this complex and sophisticated fraud. Mr Spiropoulos had no knowledge at the time of these frauds that his services as a solicitor were being utilised by a sophisticated gang of criminals intent on defrauding the banks and the innocent genuine owners of these properties. Had he known so, or had reason to suspect that there was any impropriety taking place, he would have ceased to have acted in these transactions immediately and notified the appropriate authorities.
Unfortunately our client has been convicted of involvement in these frauds and was today sentenced to 4 years in prison by His Honour Judge Grieve QC at the Southwark Crown Court. An appeal against conviction has been lodged at the Court of Appeal on behalf of our client and Charles Spiropoulos maintains unequivocally that he is not guilty of these offences. Press reports relating to our client’s involvement in these frauds are unfortunately misleading and do not contain accurate facts. Mr Spiropoulos was taken advantage of by a highly sophisticated gang of fraudsters and never had any knowledge whatsoever of what was happening. His conviction as a conveyancing solicitor is a stark warning to all lawyers involved in property transactions of how easily criminal gangs can target the legal profession, abusing the system, without any knowledge on the part of the lawyers.
Mr Spiropoulos is moved and his faith has been strengthened by the immense support which he has continued to receive from friends and family throughout his continuing ordeal. He has specifically asked that we relay his deepest sympathy to the victims of this despicable fraud.
Mansouri & Son Solicitors
Your Local Guardian
Estate Agent Today
NOTE (added 20 March 2012): After having handed out his sentences in this matter, His Honour Judge Grieve relisted the matter at the Southwark Crown Court and pursuant to the Slip Rule the learned Judge amended the sentences he had given to all defendants. All sentences were reduced by the learned Judge and the sentence of our client, Mr Charles Spiropoulos was reduced to 2 years and 9 months.