K&L Gates Former Partner Apologized to Firm for Gambling Habit
By Debra Mao – Aug 16, 2011 1:29 AM ET
A former partner at K&L Gates LLP admitted to taking money from client accounts to cover his gambling habit and apologized, according to a lawyer representing the U.S. law firm.
Victor Dawes, who is representing K&L Gates in its lawsuit against Navin Kumar Aggarwal, said the defendant wrote in a letter to the firm that he had taken money from the escrow accounts of clients to pay his gambling debts.
“What we have is an admission about a systematic scheme that had taken place over a number of years,” Dawes said today at a hearing in Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance. Aggarwal’s lawyer, Kevin Hon, didn’t dispute the veracity of the letter.
Aggarwal sought at the hearing to have about HK$3.7 million ($475,000) released from his account to pay for his legal fees. The law firm applied to freeze the accounts after police charged the 44-year-old corporate lawyer with three counts of theft and three counts of forgery on June 24.
Aggarwal, in custody at Hong Kong’s Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 22 to face allegations that he stole HK$16.6 million from the accounts of RIM China Co. held with K&L Gates and transferred the funds to Wynn International Marketing Ltd. last year.
Dawes said Aggarwal wrote in the letter to the firm that he was “sorry” and that “the money was used to cover my gambling losses accumulated over the years.”
Aggarwal resigned when confronted with the allegations in mid-June, K&L Gates said. The firm, which itself has been sued for at least HK$250.4 million, sued Aggarwal for breach of trust.
“The police investigation is still ongoing,” Hon said after the hearing when asked whether his client plans to plead guilty in view of the letter he wrote to the firm.
Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN), the indirect owner of Wynn International Marketing, operates two casinos in Macau, a 70-minute ferry ride from Hong Kong.
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