Conveyancer disqualified for 16 years

A conveyancer has been disqualified for a total of 16 years following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Malcolm Graham ran SFM Legal Services Ltd and was originally disqualified from being a director for five years, before receiving a second ban of 11 years for misrepresentations that led to over 29 million in losses to a mortgagee.

Struck off as a solicitor in 2009, Graham’s original five-year ban came in October last year after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud in Newcastle upon Tyne County Court and with the concurrent 11 year ban, Graham cannot direct a company until 2025.

Vicky Bagnall, Director of Investigations at the Insolvency Service said: "Although Mr Graham was disqualified as a director by the court after a fraud trial, the Insolvency Service pursued a second disqualification in the public interest as the misconduct was so severe."

His conveyancing company SFM ran a fraudulent Stamp Duty Land Tax Schemeusing altered legal documents, misleading investors into believing they would save millions in tax, with a 50 percent administration fee levied on the fictitious savings that Graham was said to have used to fund a ‘lavish lifestyle.’

In January, the court heard that Graham had caused or allowed SFM to misrepresent the nature of property transactions to a mortgagee, which led him to enter transactions that resulted in a huge estimated shortfall of £29,359,457.

One allegation stated that SFM acted for a borrower purchasing two hotels for a combined total of £11,150,000, but the company advised the mortgagees that the borrower was purchasing one of 78 separate apartments within the hotel buildings, rather than a hotel, with SFM’s files showing the company received fees of £644,417 for acting on the borrowers behalf.

Gary Forbes, acting head of the Criminal Taxes Unit at HMRC, said last November: "Malcolm Graham was posing as a professional adviser and was not only trying to defraud HMRC out of millions of pounds but was also more than happy to rip off clients who had trusted him."

Today's Conveyancer