Conveyancer Jailed Following Property Fraud And Money Laundering

A solicitor has been jailed following a conviction for money laundering. Greater Manchester Police had been investigating the criminal activity of an organised group for some time before the arrests were made.

In order to legitimise their ill-gotten gains acquired through drug-dealing, evading taxes and property fraud, the group looked to hide their money in property acquisitions.

Ross McKay, a solicitor in the Manchester area then began working with the group as their sole conveyancer in the property transactions. During the property deals, mortgage applications used nominees as opposed to the actual owners under the knowledge of McKay.

Furthermore, the source of wealth and funds was disguised from lenders when the deposits were paid, and the mortgage process started. The income of the nominees was also false; bamboozling lenders to secure the mortgage and launder the money.

Unbelievably, McKay worked on over eighty property deals with the consortium of seven criminals. McKay was sentenced to seven years by Manchester Crown Court for his part in the concealment and laundering of illegal funds.

Although the other criminals were also sentenced for their various crimes, the money laundering offence was awarded a hefty sentence that outweighed some of the sentences awarded to the criminals that initiated the sales.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, one of the convicted criminals, Scott Rowbotham, has been ordered to pay £3,522,459 of his estimated property empire worth over £10 million and spanning 88 properties.

If the amount is not paid within six months, his current three-year sentence he was given for pleading guilty to money laundering could rise to ten years. The properties will now be sold to accrue the money.

Adrian Ladkin, Senior financial investigator of Greater Manchester Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “McKay was fully aware that the purpose of the transactions was to launder criminal proceeds and he was deliberately dishonest in facilitating them.

“As a solicitor, McKay was in a position of trust, but he spectacularly failed in his legal duties through his corrupt and unlawful actions.

“It is thanks to the meticulous work of the officers in this case that today he has been brought to account for his deceitful actions.”

How important is the process of determining the source of wealth in a property transaction? Is there enough guidance to help conveyancers understand their responsibilities?

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