Jailed ex-City lawyer banned from the legal profession

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By Thomas Connelly on


Joshua Alexander Brien defrauded US law firm Cooley and the Commonwealth Secretariat out of £600k

A former high-flying City lawyer who was jailed for defrauding two former employers out of over £600,000 has been banned from working in the legal profession.

Joshua Alexander Brien, 49, worked in the London HQ of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the intergovernmental organisation which supports member countries and co-ordinates Commonwealth activities, before joining US outfit Cooley as special counsel.

The lawyer — once dubbed a “rising star” in public international law in the Legal 500 rankings — was jailed for three counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of fraud following a trial at Southwark Crown Court last year. He was handed a seven and a half year prison term.

At the time, the court heard how Brien used a fake email address and fabricated correspondence to siphon off nearly £150,000 destined for a Commonwealth contractor into a bank account he had set up in Australia.

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Brien then went on to secure a role at the London office of US outfit Cooley, lying on his CV as to the reasons for leaving the Commonwealth. While employed there he worked on an arbitration matter involving a marine salvage company and told the client to forward payments to his account.

While at the firm he was found to have stolen over £400,000 which should have been paid to Cooley by two clients as well as £90,000 from the government of the Maldives.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has now been banned Brien from working in a law firm as “it is undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice”, according to the published ruling.

The SRA said no solicitor or employee of a solicitor shall employ him without its permission. He was also ordered to pay £600 in costs.

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