Three Scottish lawyers jailed for money-laundering
Three former lawyers and two other men who masterminded a £1.48 million bank and property money-laundering operation in Scotland have been jailed for a total of 30 years and four months.
Solicitors Iain Robertson, Alastair Blackwood and David Lyons along with Mohammed Aziz and Robert Ferguson, were handed the sentences by Lord Richardson at the High Court in Glasgow.
All five were found guilty last month following a nine-week trial that was triggered by a Law Society of Scotland investigation into the Paisley legal firm Robertson & Ross. They were convicted of fraud and multiple charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Robertson, Lyons and Aziz were also convicted on charges of being involved in serious organised crime.
Robertson, 69, of Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, was imprisoned for eight years while Blackwood, of Dunlop in Ayrshire, and Lyons, 71, also of Kilmacolm, were each jailed for seven years. Aziz, 61, of Partick, Glasgow, will spend seven years behind bars and Ferguson, 67, of Thornliebank, Glasgow, was jailed for 16 months.
Prosecutors told jurors the case centred on four transactions carried out between May 2015 and July 2016.
The first transaction involved a £79,340 stolen cheque due to be paid to a law firm in Jersey. The next centred on £240,000 from a fraudulent house sale in London. The third transaction saw £985,000 stolen from the hacked bank account of an individual
And the final illegal activity was uncovered after Robertson claimed to be acting for a man who wanted to sell his home in Essex. The court heard that the “seller” was said to be staying at a flat that turned out to be Ferguson’s address. A total of £181,786 was made from the fraudulent sale.
In each transaction, the proceeds were funnelled through the client bank account held by Robertson’s firm in Paisley, Robertson and Ross Limited, and false records were created to make them appear legitimate.
Furthermore, fake papers and fake IDs – including a passport and driver’s licence – were collated in a bid to cover up the crimes.
The Law Society raised concerns about several of these transactions and alerted the police to potential illegal activity.
The trial heard that lawyer Robertson, who has been suspended by the Law Society along with Blackwood, was at the heart of the money-laundering scheme since he had access to his firm’s client account.