AN East Renfrewshire man is behind bars after a probe into dodgy dealings at a law firm uncovered a money laundering operation.

Robert Ferguson, 67, is one of five men who were convicted today following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Also locked up were former lawyers Iain Robertson, 69, David Lyons, 71, and Alistair Blackwood, 68, along with 61-year-old Mohammed Aziz.

The court heard how almost £1.5million of dirty money was funnelled through the client account of Robertson's law firm in Paisley to make it look legitimate.

Prosecutors said Lyons and Aziz had closer links to those behind the large-scale crime, with Blackwood and Ferguson also playing vital roles.

All five had denied being involved, with Robertson insisting he had been duped and that his firm was targeted by criminals.

Ferguson, of Thornliebank, and his four co-accused were found guilty of charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Robertson and Lyons, both of Kilmacolm, as well as Aziz, of Partick, Glasgow, were also convicted of a charge of being involved in serious organised crime.

In addition, Robertson and Lyons were guilty of a fraud charge.

Lord Richardson withdrew bail for all five as sentencing was deferred until the new year for background reports.

The charges faced by the quintet spanned a period between 2015 and 2016.

The trial was sparked by a Law Society of Scotland probe into the Robertson and Ross legal firm, based in Causeyside Street.

The case focused on four separate money laundering transactions.

Bogus paperwork, as well as fake identification, including a passport and driving licence, were put together to help cover up what was really happening.

In the biggest theft, the bank account of a multi-millionaire businessman who is also the owner of UK football club was targeted.

Jurors heard how £985,000 was swiped and ended up in the client account of Robertson's firm.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Alan Cameron said: "The man had never had any business or communication with Robertson and Ross."

The stolen sum was then sent back in two lots – at the same time the Law Society was carrying out an inspection at the law firm – but the full amount was later returned to the company client account.

Prosecutors said Aziz had directed the mystery criminals to transfer the cash there.

Robertson and Blackwood, of Dunlop, Ayrshire, then helped try to make the crime appear legal.

The businessman who was targeted only became aware of what had happened when his bank's fraud team alerted him.

The court heard the first dodgy transaction centred around a stolen £79,340 cheque due to be paid to a law firm in Jersey.

Robertson, Lyons and Aziz had different roles in hiding the cash.

The next centred on the fraudulent £240,000 sale of a house in Neasden, London.

Robertson and Lyons had central roles in laundering the cash, with Blackwood having a portion of it.

The final transaction related to another dodgy property deal.

The indictment stated that Robertson and Lyons claimed to be acting for a man who wanted to sell his home in Romford, Essex.

However, jurors heard he was not a client and had never met them before.

English-based solicitors were then unwittingly involved in the illegal sale, believing everything to be above board.

The 'seller' was said to be staying at a flat north of the border.

This turned out to be Ferguson's address in East Renfrewshire and paperwork was sent there.

A total of £181,786 was made from the fraudulent sale of the house.

Dirty cash again landed in the client account of Robertson and Ross before being transferred to other individuals higher up the chain.

Aziz used some of the money at a pawnbrokers near his home to buy gold jewellery.

Robertson gave evidence and was in the witness box for more than a week.

He denied being "a gambler" and pinned the blame on others, including Lyons.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Mr Cameron stated: "Robertson's part in this was plain. He had access to the client account...and pay out to others, all while making it seem transactions were legitimate.

"From the evidence, David Lyons appeared to be one step closer to the criminals, as he was the one repeatedly telling Robertson a payment was coming.

"Aziz appeared to be one step closer was suggested to be going to 'his guy'."

He later added: "Is it really credible to suggest that Iain Robertson was routinely targeted by criminals and that dodgy money kept coming into his client account and that he simply did not know?"