MICHELLE Thomson, the MP for Edinburgh West, has withdrawn from the SNP whip at Westminster after Police Scotland launched a criminal investigation into alleged irregularities relating to property deals linked to her.
Ms Thomson had a high-profile role during the independence referendum campaign as managing director of the pro-independence group, Business for Scotland.
She worked in financial services for 23 years before setting up her own property business in 2009.
The MP, who also withdrew from her role as the SNP business spokeswoman at Westminster after the Police Scotland probe was launched, is not being investigated herself.
However, the force is conducting an investigation ordered by the Crown Office relating to property deals in 2010 and 2011 in which Ms Thomson used the services of solicitor Christopher Hales, who was struck off by the Scottish Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal (SDDT) for misconduct last year.
Mr Hales was found guilty of professional misconduct and struck off as a solicitor for the role he played in 13 transactions relating to M&F Property Solutions, which had Ms Thomson as a partner.
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Ms Thomson’s property deals involved the “back to back” buying and selling of houses, owned by vulnerable people. They were bought at below full market value and then resold at far higher prices, often on the same day.
The 53-page SDDT ruling states that the “central role of Michelle Thomson and M&F Property Solutions in a number of these transactions should have set alarm bells ringing”.
It said Mr Hales failed to provide mortgage companies with key information used to prevent fraud and must have been aware that there was a possibility he was facilitating mortgage fraud, whether or not it occurred.
In some cases, loans obtained for the properties were greater than the actual purchase price.
Ms Thomson has denied wrongdoing and has said she is happy to co-operate with the police.
At First Minister’s Questions last week, Nicola Sturgeon claimed that she had known nothing about Thomson’s business activities until she read about them in newspaper reports.