News: On the fiddle: Massive buy to let fraud exposed in court

Tue, 08 Jan 19

The Daily Mail has reported on a massive buy to let fiddle which involved a £10.8m property empire, rents totalling £500,000 a year, and money laundering.

The report details how corrupt conveyancing solicitor Ross McKay worked with buy to let criminal mastermind Scott Rowbotham - from Wilmslow and Manchester respectively - to build up a portfolio of 88 BTL properties. 

Rowbotham told mortgage lenders that he was an operations manager for a TV company earning some £48,000 a year when in reality - according to the Mail - he had only declared £1,000 in income and £18.20 in tax over 11 years. Meanwhile his girlfriend was receiving some £20,000 in tax credits at the time.   

McKay, who was working for Parker Birds law firm, reportedly knew of the false claims being made by Rowbotham and went along with the applications for mortgages. 

Manchester Crown Court has heard that properties held in Rowbotham's name in which McKay acted as the solicitor, obtained between 2005 and 2008, cost some £6.6m. There were also new-build units in addition. 

In order to buy the properties Rowbotham obtained mortgages and re-mortgages amounting to millions of pound, plus by purporting to sell properties he already owned to other people including his long-term partner, the mother of his long-term partner and other associates.

Although McKay’s case has only recently come to court, he was arrested in 2014 during an investigation by police and tax officials into the financial affairs of Rowbotham and his associates; it emerged the lawyer had also been laundering money for a shell company used by another known criminal. 

Sentencing him to seven years in prison, Judge Timothy Smith told McKay: “These convictions mean you fall short of the qualities expected of a solicitor. You were consistently in breach of each requirement of a solicitor, and failed as your duty to uphold the law. 

“In trial you portrayed yourself as being an average solicitor, one that helped to support your family but any outward show of professionalism was a charade. You allowed criminal property to be obtained and assisted these people in organised crime. You must have known or suspected in continuing to provide them with legal services. You were turning a blind eye and you knew the money you were dealing with was criminal property.”

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