‘No more action’ over £400k thief Michael Karus

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NO further action is to be taken against a disgraced New Town solicitor jailed for embezzling more than £400,000 from an elderly woman, following a probe into allegations he stole cash from other dead clients.

Michael Karus, 52, was jailed for three-and-a-half years for stealing money while acting as executor of the estate of Edith Hampton, 89, who died in 2003.

Detectives were then asked to examine the wills of several other wealthy clients over concerns they may also have been the victims of fraud.

After a detailed inquiry they have admitted there is “insufficient evidence” to continue their investigations.

While reports were sent to the procurator fiscal, no further charges have been brought against the former lawyer.

Officers examined the case of Danuta Maj, a retired music teacher who died at the Drummond Grange Nursing Home in Lasswade, in February 2001, where Karus was her executor.

It is understood the widowed 91-year-old, who died from bronchopneumonia, had no immediate relatives. Her death was registered by a solicitor from Karus’s then legal firm, Karus & Co, based at Gloucester Place.

Officers also probed the estate of Dr Stanislaw Seliga, a retired university lecturer from St Andrews, Fife, who died in April 1991. The 95-year-old Parkinson’s sufferer was unmarried and his death certificate was registered by a “friend”.

A third person, Dr Wiktor Tomaszewski, was reported to police as a possible fraud victim following his death in June 1995. The 88-year-old had been a GP who specialised in treating members of the city’s Polish community. All three deceased were Polish expatriates, a community Karus’ firm specialised in representing.

Police have sent a report over alleged fraud to the procurator fiscal, but as yet no charges have been brought.

The lawyer joined Karus & Co, the firm founded by his late Polish immigrant father, in 1986 and ran the company until being suspended from practising law in 2002.

Karus was hired by Ms Hampton to draw up a will leaving her fortune to Cancer Research UK. But following her death, Karus transferred the money into his personal account. Bosses at Cancer Research contacted police in 2007.

Jailed in October 2009, Karus made his fortune dealing in property in the Capital over the last 20 years. The former Merchiston Castle School pupil has boasted of being a “shark” who preys on vulnerable victims, even naming two of his firms GWS (Great White Shark) and Mako – after the shark – in celebration of his predatory style.

When the Evening News visited his home in plush Moray Place there was no answer.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Police in Edinburgh historically conducted inquiries into reports of wills being defrauded. However, there was insufficient evidence to progress these enquiries further. Where appropriate, a report was sent to the procurator fiscal.”

A Crown Office spokesman said that Karus had not been charged.