Auckland lawyer Bruce Harvey Reid has been struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.
Mr Reid had admitted two charges of misconduct and one charge of unsatisfactory conduct. The Tribunal had made an interim suspension order against him on 5 February 2016.
The first charge of misconduct arose when Mr Reid was the solicitor for the trustees of a trust which sold a property. From the sale proceeds he misappropriated $41,920 and created a false settlement statement to disguise the misappropriation.
The second charge of misconduct involved him misappropriating $145,836 following his appointment as an executor of an estate. Funds held by the estate in a term investment were transferred to his trust account and then to himself for his own personal use.
The charge of unsatisfactory conduct was for misappropriating a total of $62,700 from the same estate. This was through 19 separate payments in circumstances where he relied on an authority for temporary advances to be made without him having advised the executors to obtain legal advice and in breach of the Trust Account Regulations.
Mr Reid appeared at the hearing and apologised to his clients and the profession and consented to being struck off.
In addition to the striking off order, the Tribunal ordered him to pay the maximum compensation of $25,000 in respect of each charge. He was also ordered to pay costs of $8,402 to the New Zealand Law Society and to reimburse hearing costs.
New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore says it was almost inevitable that Mr Reid would be struck off once he had admitted the charges.
"It is fundamental that the public must be able to trust their lawyers to be completely honest in handling their money," he says.
"There is absolutely no way that misappropriation of a client's money can be excused. There is no room in the legal profession for anyone who abuses the trust of their client."