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High-profile lawyer Adam Magill faces court on fraud charges

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The financial operations of a Queensland law firm have gone under the microscope as one of its senior partners battles fraud charges.

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Adam Magill, 49, partner in Lawler Magill, is facing a committal hearing in Brisbane Magistrates Court on five charges, including aggravated fraud, money laundering and fraudulent falsification of records.

The charges stem from a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation into the firm over an alleged fraud of Legal Aid money and money laundering.

The investigation also related to cash payments by clients allegedly not deposited into trust accounts.

Law firm partner Neil Lawler told the court the firm had struggled to reconcile its trust payments.

“We used to use a system called perfect balance, but it never balanced,” Lawler said.

Three former solicitors who worked at Lawler Magill have been granted indemnity after each made statements for the CCC case against Magill.

The trio earlier told the hearing they collected bonus cash payments as an incentive on top of their salary.

Lawler denied any suggestion bonus cash payments were part of the work agreement.

“I do not remember any bonus payments and I don’t remember any being paid,” he said.

“They had to be performing, but as far as bonus payments, I would not think so.”

He admitted discrepancies had been discovered internally in the firm accounts in 2017.

“There were payments made that were not authorised,” Lawler said.

The senior lawyer lodged a complaint to police against former administration officer Wendy Pond over missing money.

He alleged money had been paid directly into her bank account.

“It was thousands. I think it was $150,000 that we came up with. The more you looked, the worse it got.”

However, the staffer who has given evidence against Magill was not charged.

“I was advised they were not going to prosecute,” Lawler said. “I was dumbfounded. I don’t understand it.

“Adam had been told she was too vital a witness to the commission. I don’t know how that’s relevant – nothing ever happened.

“I was absolutely astounded.”

CCC officer Detective Senior Sergeant Peter Roddick, in charge of the Lawler Magill investigation, denied placing pressure not to prosecute Pond.

He also claimed to have met with Lawler who said the complaint was made “under duress”.

The hearing has been adjourned for mention on September 27.

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