New Zealand Law Society - Struck off lawyer charged under Crimes Act

Struck off lawyer charged under Crimes Act

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Edward Errol Johnston, 59, has appeared in Auckland District Court to face three charges under section 228 of the Crimes Act 1961 of dishonestly taking or using document.

Mr Johnston was struck off by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal in 2013 after admitting charges of misconduct and breaches of the regulations governing law practitioners.

The charges have been brought by the Serious Fraud Office. He did not enter a plea and will next appear in the Auckland District Court on 17 May 2016.

It alleges that when faced with a requirement to reduce his existing debt, Mr Johnston submitted false sale and purchase agreements to his bank. The bank accepted the fictitious transactions.

The SFO says that in reality, the properties were either sold for a higher price than he had stated, or transferred to another trust and refinanced with a loan from another bank. In January 2012 Mr Johnston submitted an allegedly false statement of assets and liabilities to the bank when obtaining the refinanced loan.

"These charges serve as a warning, both to banks, to maintain strict checks on all customers, and to property owners who consider dishonest means when needing to reduce levels of debt, SFO Director Julie Read says

"There is no benefit to this type of deceit as it will be uncovered and charges will be laid. Unfortunately, manipulating the system can also hinder access for honest buyers who are looking to finance property."