A solicitor found to have dishonestly misrepresented potential investors in a Brazilian property scheme has been struck off the roll.
Charles Valentine Fraser-Macnamara was found by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to have caused and allowed people to put thousands into the doomed social housing projects.
Fraser-Macnamara was also found by the tribunal, following a two-day hearing which he did not attend, to have involved himself in a dubious scheme which bore the hallmarks of fraud and/or money laundering. He was cleared of having provided false information about the amount he was paid by Ecohouse Developments Ltd, where he was the sole director.
The tribunal took around 30 minutes after giving its decision to rule that Fraser-Macnamara should be struck off and order him to pay almost £23,000 in costs.
Fraser-Macnamara, 61 this year, offered no mitigation prior to the decision on sanction. He will have 21 days to appeal following publication of the written judgment in early May.
Earlier in the hearing, the tribunal heard the solicitor had been a key figure in the Ponzi-type scheme that robbed some investors of their life savings.
Rory Dunlop QC, representing the Solicitors Regulation Authority, said the windfall from investing in the housing project was ‘no more real than the proverbial pot of gold at the end of a rainbow’. He added that demonstrations of investors having made received large dividends were ‘just a ruse to suck people in’.
Working alongside an associate referred to as ‘person A’, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard investors were encouraged to plough more than £30m into the social housing scheme, with less than £5m returned to them.
Fraser-Macnamara did not attend the tribunal hearing, stating he was acting on legal advice. He has submitted in writing that the SDT hearing could ‘muddy the waters’ or have an adverse impact on any potential future criminal trial.
The tribunal heard Fraser-Macnamara had already been suspended for a year in November 2016 after he was found to have lacked integrity over his involvement in Ecohouse projects.