Buy-to-let 

Solicitor jailed for helping build £10.8m property empire

Solicitor jailed for helping build £10.8m property empire

A solicitor who fixed property deals for mortgage fraudsters has been jailed.

Ross McKay, aged 39, will be spending his 40th birthday on Friday (January 10) behind bars after he was sentenced to seven years in prison at Manchester Crown Square after being found guilty of three offences of money laundering.

He was jailed for helping Scott Rowbotham, of Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, build up a portfolio of 88 properties.

Manchester Crown Court heard the pair's scheme yielded £10.8m and McKay represented crime lord Billy Black.

McKay, of Sagars Road, Handforth was complicit in the activities of a group involved in drug dealing, tax evasion and mortgage and property fraud, according to the police.

He provided 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, McKay 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.

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.

On December 6, 2018 confiscation orders were obtained against previous defendants in this case.

Under the proceeds of crime act, Rowbotham was ordered to pay £3.5m, the largest proceeds of crime case ever undertaken by Greater Manchester Police.

Senior financial investigator Adrian Ladkin, of the 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."

emma.hughes@ft.com