A SOLICITOR was cleared today of helping to cheat a sixth-form college out of £730,000 which went to buy gold bullion.
Andrew Wormstone was found not guilty after less than two hours at the Old Bailey of two charges involving the concealment and transfer of funds.
Wormstone received money from Oldham Sixth Form College meant to be for a builder.
Police arrested him after he transferred the funds to another account used to buy gold.
Wormstone, 43, of Ashworth Road, Pontefract, West Yorkshire, denied concealing criminal property of £2,634, and transferring criminal funds of £730,000 in March last year.
He told the court he had been acting in good faith on behalf of a client who contacted him by phone to arrange a loan transaction.
He said: “I sent him a standard agreement to sign. In hindsight, I should have insisted on the originals of identity documents. It was remiss of me.”
Wormstone told police he retained £2,634 for his fees and was acting on behalf of the client who wanted to invest in gold, and had not suspected anything was wrong.
Martin Hooper, prosecuting, said the money was sent to Wormstone’s law firm Velocity, in Leeds, after the college received a letter claiming its builder had changed its bank account.
After two days, most of the funds were transferred into an account of a “Mr Marshall”, who has never been traced and who might not exist, said Mr Hooper.