Top lawyer also used firm’s cash to pay off debts he owed relating to spin-off venture
A former partner at Squire Patton Boggs legacy firm Hammond Suddards has been banned from working in UK legal services after it emerged he had been billing clients for luxury family holidays.
Konstantinos Adamantopoulos — who is a Greek-qualified lawyer — was, at the time, the managing partner of the international outfit’s Brussels office. In a judgment that is as incredible as it is long, it is revealed that the top antitrust lawyer was charging the firm’s clients for luxurious family getaways to Switzerland, Greece and the Caribbean.
One one occasion, Adamantopoulos billed several clients totalling €7,000 (£5,500) for a family vacation to his home country of Greece. In another punt at a free jolly, the lawyer attempted to bill a client for a family trip to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. The senior lawyer — who was admitted to the Athens Bar in 1984 — also tried to charge a client an astonishing €16,000 (£12,600) for a family skiing trip to Swiss resort Zermatt.
But it didn’t stop there. Adamantopoulos used the firm’s office account in Brussels to fund a €32,000 (£25,000) “cash call”, after a spin-off firm he was involved in, Hammonds Direct, went under.
In early 2010, senior staff at Hammond Suddards instructed KPMG to investigate Adamantopoulos’ financial dealings.
With the investigation revealing serious misconduct, Adamantopoulos was given the option to resign or participate in a formal disciplinary process. He chose to resign.
Quickly finding his feet again, Adamantopoulos — who according to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) report was a “very big biller” — landed a role at the Brussels office of London-based outfit Holman Fenwick Willan. Legal Cheek understands that Adamantopoulos has since left the firm, and now runs his own legal consultancy.
The lawyer put forward a number of defences for his over exuberance with the expense forms. With regards to the luxury holidays, he argued that these had either been pre-agreed with clients or that they were in fact working holidays. The SDT, dismissing his defence, found that Adamantopoulos had acted with dishonesty and lacked integrity.
With regards the £25,000 taken from the firm to pay off another firm’s debts, Adamantopoulos argued he had a genuine belief that he was entitled to borrow the money. Once again dismissing his defence, the SDT described this as an “extraordinary proposition” that was “not credible”.
Furthermore, Adamantopoulos claimed that there had been a “conspiracy” between his former employers and KPMG. He told the SDT that he believed that Hammond Suddards had instructed the accountancy giant to produce a damaging report in order to remove him from the firm. The tribunal dismissed this accusation, claiming it had been made “without merit or any proper basis”.
Banning Adamantopoulos from working within any UK legal practice, the SDT was unable to strike him from the roll, due to his status as a non-registered European lawyer. The report also notes that all client monies taken by Adamantopoulos were reimbursed by the firm.