A FORMER law firm chief executive who became embroiled in a ‘dubious’ investment scheme has been fined £25,000 by his professional watchdog.

Mark Fallon and Mr Finch Ltd, an employment law specialist, was lent more than £1million by an unregistered firm, Sable International Finance, a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) hearing was told.

A fitness to practice panel heard Sable was offering investors returns on their money of seven per cent, when it was only lending cash to the firm at six per cent interest.

Fallon was also found to have acted recklessly, in September 2016, by allowing funds to be transferred to a lender, for individuals who had had their bank accounts frozen.

He was also brought to book over claims to his professional body, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), he had set up Mr Finch using borrowing, when he had in fact been loaned £50,250 by a third party, and planned to borrow up to £500,000 from Sable.

In an agreed settlement with the regulator, Fallon must also not be the sole signatory on a client or office account for three years.

An official from the SRA, which brought the case, said: “The respondent was reckless in that he was aware of features of the funding arrangement, and payments made by reference to it, which should have been identified as indicators of a dubious investment scheme.”

The SDT hearing was told a company called Virtual Law was established by Fallon’s friend, Lillian Milner, in March 2016 and she was initially the sole director. He was appointed the following month and Mrs Milner resigned, then the name was changed to Mr Finch Ltd and she transferred her shares to him.

Once the £1million was secured from Sable, Fallon’s role was to make commission and interest payments to the company. He later handed over £211,000 to a firm called Amore Consulting Group, which he believed to be owned by Sable.

In his defence, Fallon said he accepted he had not undergone “due diligence” concerning Sable but had acted in good faith throughout.

He told the SDT he had been “naive” in trusting a longstanding connection of his business partner. He insisted he had co-operated fully with the SRA when the allegations came to light, had learned from his errors and his practice was now transformed.

Before he set up Mr Finch he had been a senior partner with Manchester-based Irwin Mitchell and chief executive with Lance Mason in Blackburn.