The U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) launched an investigation into collapsed law firm Axiom Ince and an estimated 66 million pounds (U.S. $82.5 million) worth of client funds that went missing.
The SFO announced Tuesday its agents arrested seven individuals and raided nine of the firm’s offices as part of a search for more evidence. Axiom Ince collapsed in October amid accusations client funds went missing and mass departures of lawyers to other firms.
The SFO is investigating how client funds were misspent and how funds “passed from the firm’s client accounts with Barclays to the State Bank of India to fund these purchases,” the agency said.
Axiom Ince was founded in May, when Axiom DWFM purchased Ince Group, which was facing administration. Two months later, Axiom Ince purchased Plexus, a struggling insurance firm.
When it was shut down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority on Oct. 3, Axiom Ince operated 14 branches in England and Wales and had more than 1,400 employees.
“There are a number of significant questions that need to be answered: clients from this law firm are missing many millions of pounds, and more than 1,400 of its staff have lost their jobs,” said new SFO Director Nick Ephgrave in a statement. “The impact on those affected is extremely serious.”
The SFO did not name the individuals it arrested, although a report from Reuters indicated former Axiom Ince Director Pragnesh Modhwadia was not among those arrested and was cooperating with authorities.
Neither Barclays nor the Bank of India responded to requests for comment.