AN East Renfrewshire man has been jailed after a probe into dodgy dealings at a law firm uncovered a money laundering operation.

Robert Ferguson, 67, was one of five men convicted following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow last month.

He was handed a 16-month prison sentence when he returned to court today to learn his fate.

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

Robertson was jailed for eight years, with Lyons, Aziz and Blackwood each handed a seven-year stretch.

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.

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

Addressing Robertson, Lyons and Aziz, judge Lord Richardson told them: "You collectively formed a crucial link to a web of criminality that spread across the UK.

"You did this by cleaning the proceeds of crime and thereby gave them (other criminals) access to their ill-gotten gains.

"On any view, your conduct was highly reprehensible."

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.

The final transaction also related to a dodgy property deal, with Robertson and Lyons claiming to be acting for a man who wanted to sell his home in Romford, Essex.

Jurors heard he was not a client and had never met them before.

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.

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

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

However, Lord Richardson told Robertson: "Society expects and demands lawyers to act with honesty and integrity at all times.

"You undermined the very trust which underpins legal practice and commerce to take place."