$12.5m Ponzi scheme lawyer to be struck off

A former Gold Coast solicitor jailed for running a Ponzi scheme which fleeced investors of $12.5 million is to be struck off the roll of practitioners.

Anthony David Gray was ruled permanently unfit to practise by Justice Burns in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) on Thursday.

The discipline application filed last year by the Legal Services Commissioner (LSC) alleged Mr Gray engaged in professional misconduct and/or unsatisfactory professional conduct between 2009 and 2017 amounting to serious criminal offending.

During that period he defrauded 46 complainants of about $12.5 million, and defrauded one client of $150,000. In 2022, he was subsequently convicted of two counts of contravening Section 408C of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) and sentenced to a total of 12 years and six months imprisonment. He has since been released on parole.

Justice Burns said Mr Gray had promised risk-free investments with high returns.

“In addition to guaranteeing the capital and interest and promising attractive terms regarding important features such as security and redemption, Mr Gray claimed that the scheme was a ‘bespoke operation of refined process’ which was not extended to just ‘anyone’ but was being opened up ‘to you, especially as you are a longstanding associate and friend’ of either Mr Gray or his associate,” he said.


He said Mr Gray, who was admitted in 1987, “benefitted substantially” from the overall fraud, and because no claim could be made on the Legal Practitioners’ Fidelity Guarantee Fund, complainants had no avenue of recourse.

The second of the LSC’s two charges related to Mr Gray’s retention of $150,000 from a client in an insurance matter in 2016.

At sentencing in April 2022, District Court Judge Byrne QC described the solicitor’s conduct as “disgraceful” and “involving a high level of criminality”.

Last week, Justice Burns said there was no doubt Mr Gray’s behaviour constituted professional misconduct.

“He used his position as a legal practitioner to perpetrate an elaborate fraud over many years causing enormous loss to those innocent members of the community who had the misfortune to be drawn in by him,” he said.

“In short, the nature and seriousness of his offending would amply justify a finding that he is unfit to engage in legal practice within the meaning of s 419(1)(b) LPA.”


The LSC submitted the only appropriate order was a recommendation that Mr Gray’s name be removed from the local roll of solicitors.

Mr Gray, however, submitted he should be allowed to continue to practise as a lawyer on a restricted basis because this would “benefit others and the profession by providing a useful and much needed service, encouraging co-operation, and making good”.

Justice Burns said Mr Gray did not have appropriate insight into the nature of his offending.

“In the first place, the proposition Mr Gray advanced to the effect that it might be open to the tribunal to allow him to continue to hold himself out as a legal practitioner after such a demonstration of entrenched dishonesty is deeply concerning,” he said.

“Second, despite all that has gone on, Mr Gray continues with attempts to minimise the seriousness of his offending.

“Any notion that Mr Gray’s deceit was motivated by anything other than greed is as absurd as his description of the Ponzi scheme as an ‘investment scheme which went horribly wrong’.


“That he is prepared to swear to these things not only establishes an absence of any proper insight, it evidences how readily he is prepared to resort to deception to suit his own purposes.”

Justice Burns said QCAT recognised Mr Gray had no prior disciplinary record; co-operated in the investigation of the charges; agreed the facts; and accepted both the proper characterisation of his conduct and the likely sanction.

“But those features hardly register in the balance when proper regard is had to the enduring harm he caused to the victims of his predations and the reputation of the profession,” he said.

“Even more to the point, when one looks behind the convictions to the true facts of the case, Mr Gray’s overall conduct was revealing of defects of character that are simply incompatible with fitness to practise as a lawyer.

“Honesty and integrity are of course qualities that form the bedrock of any person’s fitness to engage in legal practice, but Mr Gray has shown himself to be fundamentally dishonest and devoid of any integrity.”

Justice Burns also ordered Mr Gray pay the LSC’s court costs.

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