Prosecutors seek £1.5m from East Lothian castle owner who stole £358k from charity

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PROSECUTORS are seeking to recover more than £1.5 million from an architect who embezzled hundreds of thousands of pounds from a charity.

Ian Brash, 66, stole more than £350,000 from the Dr Robert Malcolm Trust, which provides financial help to medical students and doctors.

Fa'side Castle.

Fa'side Castle.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard that Brash had been a trustee of the charity for more than 15 years before he began pocketing money from the organisation’s bank account.

READ MORE: Architect forced to sell East Lothian castle to pay back £350,000 of stolen charity cash
The pensioner used the cash to buy himself an Alfa Romeo and two new Land Rovers and gave his children tens of thousands of pounds for deposits for buy to let properties.

He also bought a wind turbine and paid off large vet bills.

Brash pleaded guilty to embezzling £358,832 from the charity between August 12 2010 and September 10 2014 from the charity before Sheriff Frank Crowe in August 2018.

Sheriff Crowe heard that Mr Brash is trying to sell his 15th century Fa’side Castle, near Tranent, East Lothian, to raise funds to pay back the stolen cash.

Now, it has emerged that Crown lawyers are seeking £1,590,512.69 from Brash using proceeds of crime legislation.

The revelation became known after a hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday.

Sheriff Frank Crowe deferred sentence on Brash until next month after hearing his lawyer say the retired architect is “anxious” to repay the charity.

During proceedings last year, Sheriff Crowe heard how the charity was set up in 1987 by one of Brash’s relatives, a Janie Millar, who had inherited around £1 million from her uncle Robert Malcolm’s estate.

Miss Millar made grants of between £250 and £1,000 to 10 to 15 applicants to the charity each year.

She asked Brash to become a trustee in the late 1980s. When Miss Millar died in 2002, Brash became the sole trustee. Brash’s children later became trustees.

The court heard how the charity bought a property in Windermere, Cumbria for £172,018 in 1995 and after Brash had taken sole control of the charity’s finances, the house was sold for £500,000.

He transferred most of the cash into the trading company account before moving large sums into a personal share dealing account.

The money was used to buy shares with the profits transferred into his own bank account.

However, the police became aware of Brash’s activities and gathered enough evidence to show that he was carrying out a scam against the charity.

He told detectives that the charity cash had became “mixed up” with his own money.

But he later admitted his guilt.

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On Monday, it emerged that prosecutors were seeking recovery of the money from Brash using proceeds of crime legislation.

Brash’s advocate Mark Stewart QC said that his client wanted to repay the money that he had taken.

He said that Mr Brash still had to sell his castle but had a “number of viewers” looking at the property.

Mr Stewart said: “Mr Brash is still anxious about the matter. He is willing to repay the sum back to the charity to ensure it returns to back to the way things used to be.”

Mr Stewart also said that his client may have difficulties repaying the sum back to the charity in the light of the proceeds of crime action.

He said this was because some of the money that could be repaid would have to be spent on instructing accountants to act in the proceeds of crime action.

Mr Stewart said that if his client could repay the money back then there might not be a need for the proceeds of crime action to continue.

Court papers reveal that the sum being sought by prosecutors is £1,590,512.69.

Brash will be sentenced on July 15, 2019.