Struck-off lawyer admits dishonesty charges

Edward Johnston appeared at Auckland District Court to answer three Crimes Act charges of ‘Dishonestly taking or using document'.
Edward Johnston appeared at Auckland District Court to answer three Crimes Act charges of ‘Dishonestly taking or using document'.

A former solicitor who made fictitious loan repayments has admitted he acted dishonestly.

Edward Errol Johnston pleaded guilty at the Auckland District Court today to three counts of 'Dishonestly taking or using document' laid by the Serious Fraud Office.

Johnston was discharged from bankruptcy in March and was struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors in 2013 after admitting charges brought by the Law Society. He had previously practised in Henderson.

The SFO alleged between December 2011 and January 2012, Johnston owned properties in Auckland but missed payments to his bank.

"When faced with a requirement to reduce his existing debt, Mr Johnston manipulated the system. He submitted false Sale and Purchase Agreements to his bank.

"The bank accepted the fictitious transactions," the SFO said in a statement.

However, the properties were sold for a higher priced than he stated or were transferred to another trust and refinanced with a loan from another bank.

In January 2012, Johnston submitted a false Statement of Assets and Liabilities to the bank when obtaining the refinanced loan.

SFO director, Julie Read said the offences were a result of an attempt to avoid a troubled financial situation.

"The reality is that in deceiving the bank Mr Johnston has placed himself in a much more serious position which will result in a criminal conviction.

"Such a course should never be considered as a viable option and the SFO will prosecute all serious fraud matters brought to our attention to protect other investors and New Zealand's reputation as a corruption free market."

Johnston will be sentenced in November.

- NZ Herald

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