POLICE Scotland has reported two accountants and three solicitors to their respective professional bodies in its latest crackdown on the alleged white-collar facilitators of organised crime.

The force's head of forensic accountancy, Kenneth Murray, said all five professionals had been referred within the last six weeks with all but one referral linked to a single case.

Mr Murray said Police Scotland now routinely flags up white-collar professionals who it believes are acting unethically.

As The Herald revealed yesterday, Mr Murray urged Scotland to "wake up" to the dangers of criminal infiltration in to its legitimate business sector - including a long-term "drag" on the nation's economy.

Mr Murray and other police sources stress that they will seek to prosecute white-collar professionals against whom they have evidence of criminality.

But they will also highlight what they see as unethical conduct to bodies such as the Law Society of Scotland or the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) "as a matter of course".

BACKGROUND: Police chief says Scotland must wake up to threat of criminals taking over business

Mr Murray also suggested that some professionals - whose backgrounds are far removed from those places hit hardest by gangsterism - may simply need an informal tip-off about their associations.

He said: "The areas which suffer most directly from organised crime are those which can less afford to suffer.

"So people who are lucky enough to live in non-deprived areas have a very low perception of the danger of organised crime.

"That is a particular danger when it comes to infiltration through professionals.

"One of the things we do with the Law Society and ICAS and others is to raise awareness so people are not drawn unknowingly in to relationships which are harmful to them."

Law enforcement has information-sharing protocols with professional bodies, local authorities and other watchdogs to pass on intelligence about suspected organised crime groups and their fronts. However, Mr Murray made it clear police would do more than warn professionals that their associates may have criminal links.

He said: "Even in those cases where we are frustrated that we did not get a prosecution or a conviction, if we have clear evidence that a professional has acted in a manner which is inconsistent with the ethical guidance of their professional, we will report them. We do that as a matter of course.

"In the last six weeks Police Scotland has provided information to respective bodies against two accountants and three solicitors. One case accounts for all but one of those individuals."

The Law Society and ICAS deal with members flagged up by the police under their own rules. Referrals from financial investigators have to be made on the basis of Law Society or ICAS rules. The evidence provided alongside such referrals must be of a nature that can be put to members under investigation for response.

Mr Murray said: "At some times that is more easily done than at others, because of the nature of the material to which it relates. But those are problems which can be resolved. "The basic message is that this will happen. And it is not just me that will ensure that this will happen. This is our policy."

Yesterday The Herald revealed that Mr Murray had identified a businessman with links to overseas organised crime who had bought a real-world Scottish company.

Scottish law enforcement in recent years has increasingly focused on criminal money buying in to the legitimate economy, including well beyond traditional cash-heavy money-laundering fronts such as taxi and security firms, childcare, car washes, nail bars and tanning salons.

However, Mr Murray believes professional bodies offer a strong defence against such criminalisation.

He said: "I think we have excellent professional bodies. I can’t speak highly enough of them. I am talking about the whole ethos of the institute and the law society.

"These are communities of men and women whose integrity is an important part of who they are. That is the strength of the Scottish institutions. You might find that is not the case in other parts of the world. We are very lucky in Scotland."

All practising lawyers in Scotland have to be members of the Law Society, or Faculty of Advocates. Accountants do not have to join ICAS. Mr Murray acknowledged that some of those doing the books of what he called "bottom end" organisations vulnerable to organised crime were "unaffiliated". He said: "They are basically hired scribes who will do whatever is required of them."