By Ian Fraser
Published: Sunday Herald
Date: 3 April 2011
A LEADING Highland firm of chartered accountants and tax advisers is facing bankruptcy following a lengthy dispute with the state-owned lender Royal Bank of Scotland.
Graeme Fraser, who founded 16-strong Graeme M Fraser & Co in the early 1980s, will appear as a ‘party litigant’ in the Court of Session on Tuesday seeking leave to appeal regarding an earlier judgment in February that found in favour of an RBS petition to recover debts of £795,000. If he fails, a hearing for the sequestration of the firm is due to be heard in Dingwall Sheriff Court on Thursday.
The case concerns a loan that RBS claims was due to have been repaid in full by last September which, according to the bank, refinanced an earlier loan whose repayment date was not due until 2013. Fraser denies that he ever negotiated or signed such an agreement and accuses the bank of “hounding” his firm over the past three years.
Fraser, who has been advising smaller corporates on their lending agreements for more than 35 years, said: “There’s no way we would we have agreed to substitute a term loan that was repayable over twelve years with a ‘bullet’ loan that had to be repaid in full within 29 months.”
The firm has offices in Elgin, Nairn and Dingwall, having already had to sell its Inverness office to clear its debts.
Having lost a previous hearing, Fraser subsequently parted company with his solicitors, Aberdeen-based Paul & Williamsons. He has since been unable to find alternative representation: every law firm he contacted said it was already on RBS’s panel or reluctant to get on the wrong side of the bank.
Fraser said: “Of the four generations of our family in accountancy, banking and financial services no member has ever been pursued for any type of debt and yet now RBS are determined to sequestrate this well known practice.”
RBS said: “We are unable to comment due to the ongoing legal action.”
An edited version of this article was published in Sunday Herald on April 3rd, 2011