Australian music legend Joe Camilleri is suing the Legal Services Board for more than $140,000 stolen from him by a crooked lawyer.
Mr Camilleri and his former wife, Michelle, together lost more than $500,000 after investing with lawyer Philip Linacre, who stole more than $12 million from clients in a ‘Ponzi’ scheme.
Linacre, 61, pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in March to 21 counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception involving 17 investors and $12.1 million, and five trust-money offences.
Linacre had promised his clients, including family members, close friends and other lawyers, returns on their investments of between 13 to 23 per cent a year.
Claiming the money was being loaned out and secured by mortgages, Linacre made up fake documents, such as title searches, to convince his trusting clients everything was above board but none of the money was invested.
Mr Camilleri invested $200,000 with Linacre between October 2007 and September 2011 and only received $54,000 back in interest payments. His former wife invested $500,000 and received $127,000 back in interest payments.
In his statement of claim against the Legal Services Board, obtained by Fairfax Media, Mr Camilleri said Linacre had acted as his and Michelle’s family solicitor from 1984 to July 2012; helping to organise the couple’s wills, buy and sell their matrimonial home after they separated, give superannuation advice and general legal advice relating to Mr Camilleri’s music business.
Mr Camilleri later asked Linacre to handle a dispute he was having with another former partner, Sarah Lyon, who had taken out caveats on his two properties in Balaclava and one in St Kilda in 2011 after they had split.
By late 2011 Mr Camilleri had decided he wanted the money he had invested with Linacre repaid.
He asked Linacre on least three occasions over the six month period before May 2012 to repay him but the lawyer told him he would look into the matter and get back to him.
The Black Sorrows singer claimed he rang Linacre again in July 2012 saying he wanted his money back and Linacre ‘‘responded by saying he was organising it and made an appointment with the plaintiff (Mr Camilleri) to organise payment, which Linacre subsequently cancelled’’.
Mr Camilleri became aware on or about July 23 that Linacre had been involved in acts of dishonesty and had used his $200,000 for his own purposes.
He is suing the Legal Services Board which has refused to refund his money out of the Legal Practitioners Fidelity Fund.
Mr Camilleri, who has been touring the country with other veteran singers Leo Sayer, Richard Clapton and Russell Morris as part of the Good Times Tour, claimed that because of Linacre’s bankruptcy and fraudulent activities there was no other means for the singer to recover his funds.
Linacre, who is on remand waiting to be sentenced by Chief Justice Marilyn Warren, turned himself in to the Legal Services Board on July 19, 2012.
Linacre told an investigations officer he wanted to hand over his practising law certificate as he had been involved in misappropriating his clients’ trust and investment money.
He later told police he had kept the Ponzi scheme going while trying to find some miraculous solution to pay all his clients back.
The civil case involving Mr Camilleri and the Legal Services Board is due back in the Supreme Court in August.