Aberdeen solicitor who broke money laundering rules and fled country struck off the register

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An Aberdeen solicitor who fled to the United Arab Emirates after an investigation into financial misconduct has been barred from practising.

Ian McDougall worked from the McDougall & Co office on Ashgrove Road West for 30 years but has now been struck off the register by the Law Society of Scotland.

The organisation said he was guilty of a string of breaches including transferring funds between his clients’ accounts without their knowledge and not complying with money laundering regulations.

He was suspended from the profession in June 2015 after inspectors from the Law Society’s financial compliance department checked his firm’s accounts and found concerns of a “serious nature” relating to seven different rules.

Following a series of visits, requests for explanations, and complaints that he was working against the investigation, Mr McDougall admitted he had “taken his eye off the ball”.

Further investigations took place and a tribunal hearing was scheduled for December 2017.

But Mr McDougall did not appear and the society was forced to spend three months attempting to track him down.

In his report outlining the case, Colin Bell, the vice-chairman of the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal, wrote: “Attempts had been made to contact the respondent in Abu Dhabi, where it was thought he was working.

“Information had been received suggesting that this firm was no longer in existence.”

After further attempts, a hearing was held without Mr McDougall at the end of June.

Mr Bell wrote: “Throughout the process, the respondent had given an indication that he recognised he had breached the accounts rules and that he would take steps to remedy matters.

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“In fact, it would appear that the respondent was continuing with the same conduct.”

He added that Mr McDougall “demonstrated no insight, remorse or contrition” and “had taken the choice not to engage with the process.”

Summarising his report, he wrote: “In the circumstances, the tribunal concluded that the only disposal that would reflect the seriousness of the misconduct and protect the public and reputation of the profession was to strike the name of the respondent from the roll of solicitors.”

Lorna Jack, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “It is vital that individuals can continue to place their trust in Scottish solicitors and that their interests are protected, should things go wrong.

“We take our regulatory role very seriously and will intervene when we suspect that any of our members has failed to meet the Society’s high professional standards in the course of their work as a Scottish solicitor.”

It is understood none of the parties have been able to contact Mr McDougall since 2015.