A LAWYER who allowed his firm to be used for a "dubious" investment scheme involving South African gold coin has been struck off.

Former Prestwich councillor Stuart Kaufman allowed sums ranging from £47,000 to £200,000 to be paid into his client account.

But in at least three cases the funds disappeared elsewhere, a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) hearing was told.

Investors who had teamed up in one case with Kaufman, a former Bury Grammar student, were offering guaranteed returns of 15 per cent.

Andrew Bullock, for the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), said this figure was "unrealistic" and would have qualified under the regulator's warning policies on high yield investment fraud.

He told the London hearing that as well as kruggerand trades, his business partners were also looking to create high-value financial instruments.

In one transaction, between Ango Irish Global Ltd and an investor named only as MB, Kaufman acted for both parties, the SDT fitness to practice panel heard.

Letters drawn up as part of deeds of agreement also contained "meaningless" passages, "obvious typographical errors and inaccurate financial information", said Mr Bullock.

Kaufman, who was a sole trader as Kaufman Legal Ltd, in Harpurhey, made admissions to 18 breaches of regulations under the SRA's accounting rules.

His usual practice covers criminal work and he has appeared frequently as a defence advocate across the Northern circuit.

He was first admitted in 1981 but by 2015, covering the period concerning the allegations, legal aid cuts had seen him struggling to keep his business going.

Giving evidence, the lawyer said he was "ashamed" but had allowed himself to be deceived at a time when he was in poor health.

Gudrun Young, for Kaufman, said in mitigation that her client accepted that being struck off was "almost inevitable".

Ms Young added: "He was a perfect target for experienced criminals, in that he was a sole practitioner with a client account that they could use to their own purposes."

"He was easily manipulated and vulnerable to suggestion, as well as being open to temptation due to his financial circumstances and illness."

But she stressed that he had not devised the schemes in questions or initiated them.

The hearing was told Kaufman was declared bankrupt in 2017 and had now ceased working.

Ruling that Kaufman should be struck off and pay £24,136 in costs, SDT panel chairman Miss T Cullen, said: "The misconduct had been deliberate, calculated and had occured on more than one occasion.

"The respondent had known that he was in material breach of his obligations and had closed his eyes to it."