Belfast Telegraph

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Face of top firm lawyer on £1M theft charges

 

Graham Keys
Graham Keys
Graham Keys

By Stephen Gordon

This is the lawyer accused of stealing around £1m of clients' money and defrauding £280,000 from the top firm where he was a partner.

Racehorse owner and suspended solicitor Graham Keys is facing 21 charges including 10 of fraud by abuse of position and two of stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds belonging to clients.

The 64-year-old from Glenavy, Co Antrim, is also accused of nine charges of false accounting with all the alleged offences linked to his time with leading Belfast firm Diamond Heron Solicitors.

Keys is a former partner with Diamond Heron but parted company with the firm several years ago when the allegations of missing funds emerged. He was also well-known in racing circles as a breeder whose horses have included Moral High Ground.

Diamond Heron, based on Royal Avenue, is a leading legal firm which specialises in personal injury litigation, buying or selling of property and administration of estates.

The charges against Keys include an allegation that he stole £856,714 from an Ulster Bank account in the name of Diamond Heron between January 2006 and July 2015, with the money belonging to clients of the law firm.

Keys is also accused of stealing almost £84,000 from an Ulster Bank account in the name of Diamond Heron between February 2006 and July 2015, again with the money belonging to clients of the firm.

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The 10 fraud charges include allegations that while in a position of trust he sent letters and cheques to various banks and other organisations with the intention of causing gain for himself and a loss to Diamond Heron whose interests he was expected to safeguard.

The sums involved in the alleged frauds range from £1,000 to £101,222, with the total amount allegedly defrauded totalling around £280,000 between March 2006 and July 2015.

The nine false accounting charges allege that Keys dishonestly destroyed, defaced, concealed or falsified cheque requisition forms or ledgers entries to make a gain for himself.

The case against Keys is up for review at Belfast Crown Court this Tuesday morning.

It is understood Keys specialised in commercial litigation and secured lending.

In 2015, when the police investigation into his dealings began, the Law Society issued a statement saying Keys had had his practising certificate suspended pending investigation.

Diamond Heron also issued a statement stressing that "no client has suffered or will suffer any loss", adding that all client monies were fully safeguarded. The firm has a range of clients including trade unions, insurance brokers and banks.

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