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Fraudulent City Lawyer With Fake CV Facing Jail

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Ever lied on your CV?

I know at least two lawyers at big City law firms whose massaging of results on their application forms helped them get a foot in the door. It’s commoner than you might think – partly because, contrary to what firms might say in public, many don’t bother to check up on new recruits’ educational credentials.

Zakia Sharif, a former office manager at the London office of US law firm Fulbright & Jaworski, would know all about this. She falsely claimed to have two degrees from Kings College, London, and a legal qualification when the firm hired her in 2005 – and got away with it.

Days after being sacked in 2008, Sharif used the same trick to land a position at rival firm Holman Fenwick & Willan – on a salary of £160,000. Not bad going in the year of the Lehman Brothers collapse.

Now, though, Sharif, 47, is in the sort of trouble a bit of blagging won’t get her out of. Yesterday at the Old Bailey, Sharif pleaded guilty to all but two of the seven charges of deception, fraud and false accounting she faces alongside her husband, Richard Graham Simkin, 59, a former Fulbright partner. Judge John Bevan QC told Sharif to expect a maximum jail term of 18 months.

The pair cheated Fulbright out of £100,000 in false expense claims to pay for holidays, cosmetic surgery and designer shopping sprees. One of their scams was to bill the firm for their stays in luxurious hotels via falsified invoices that suggested the money being spent was going on recruitment agency fees.

Sharif has been barred from working as a legal executive, and Simkin has been struck off as a solicitor.

In other lawyer-makes-false-expenses-claims news, the Telegraph has spotted disgraced former Hogan Lovells partner Chris Grierson – facing charges for allegedly claiming £1m of false expenses – killing time in Monaco as he awaits his next court appearance in February. Grierson’s lawyer, Clare Montgomery QC of Matrix Chambers, confirmed to the paper that her client is “working abroad in a managerial position…in Monaco.”

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