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A former Newcastle solicitor has been given a suspended sentence for fraud after he funded a “lavish lifestyle” on the back of conned client money.
Malcolm Graham pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud at Newcastle Crown Court on 30 October for fraudulently reducing property taxes for clients and taking “huge financial rewards at their expense”.
After being struck off as a solicitor in 2009 for dishonest practice Graham set up a tax advisory scheme and targeted financial advisors, claiming his scheme could save millions of pounds in Stamp Duty Land Tax.
He charged clients a 50 per cent administration fee on any reduction generated and manipulated their transactions and tax returns to reduce the amount the had to pay.
He has been given a suspended sentence for two years on each of the seven counts of fraud and suspended for two years and disqualified as a director for five years.
Acting head of Criminal Taxes Unit at the HM Revenue and Customs Gary Forbes said: “Malcolm Graham was posing as a professional advisor and was not only trying to defraud HMRC out of millions of pounds but was also more than happy to rip off clients who had trusted him.”
“Graham was formerly a solicitor who was struck off in 2009 for dishonest practice, so he clearly knew that altering legal documents was a criminal offence but simply chose to ignore the law for a financial gain.”
The sentence follows a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ruling in 2010 which found Graham guilty of working without Law Society recognition and misleading the SRA during its investigations . He was forced to pay costs of £116,800 “reflecting his key role in all the matters.”
He was also at the centre of a fight over an alleged false personal injury claim in 2008, when Irish insurer Quinn Insurance claimed SFM Legal Services had made “fraudulent representations” to the insurer and submitted a claim to the High Court.
The 37-year-old has held 16 directorships including his latest, SFM Legal Services Ltd.