A solicitor who was the ‘go to’ lawyer for a gang of criminals because he would not ask too many questions about where their money came from has been jailed for seven years.
Ross McKay, who turns 40 on Thursday, was found guilty of three offences of money laundering by Manchester Crown Court last week.
His offending came to light through Operation Isidor, an investigation run by Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP) economic crime unit into the activities of an organised group who had been laundering the proceeds of their criminal enterprise, including drug-dealing, tax evasion and mortgage and property fraud.
Mr McKay was found to have been complicit in the group’s criminal activities by providing his conveyancing services in order for the money to be laundered.
Deposits were put down on houses where the true illegal source of the funds was disguised from the lenders, mortgage applications used nominees instead of the names of the legitimate purchasers, and claims about income were wildly exaggerated in order to secure the loans.
In total, the solicitor was responsible for the conveyancing in over 80 property transactions for several criminals, all of whom were subsequently convicted of serious criminal offences, including money laundering and fraud.
GMP said Mr McKay was their “go-to solicitor as they knew that he would carry out the property transactions without asking too many questions about the nature of their business, the sources of the deposits or the connections between the parties to the transactions”.
According to a report in the Manchester Evening News, Judge Timothy Smith told Mr McKay: “You were expected to be a person of utmost integrity and honesty. You fell far short of those high standards of professionalism, trust and integrity that are to be expected of a solicitor.
“You failed, as was your duty, to uphold the law and the proper administration of justice.
“By your actions, you enabled criminal property to be acquired on a significant scale, and chose to involve yourself in the activities of those involved in crime, organised crime and, in the case of Mr Black, drug dealing.”
He was referring to Billy Black, a gangster currently serving a 22-year sentence, whose activities also saw the conviction last year of a solicitor on seven counts of failing to comply with money laundering regulations and one count of failing to disclose his suspicions.
Senior financial investigator Adrian Ladkin, of GMP’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.”
Last month, one of the men Mr McKay helped, Scott Rowbotham, was ordered to pay £3.5m in the largest proceeds of crime case ever undertaken by GMP, or face 10 years in jail. He was jailed for three years and eight months in May 2017 and is now out of prison.