Ex-lawyer sentenced to home detention for dishonesty

Edward Johnston was sentenced in the Auckland District Court today on dishonesty charges.
Edward Johnston was sentenced in the Auckland District Court today on dishonesty charges.

A now struck-off lawyer who gave false documents to his bank has been sentenced to 11 months' home detention.

Edward Errol Johnston pleaded guilty at the Auckland District Court in September to three charges for dishonestly taking or using a document laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

He was today sentenced to 11 months' home detention and ordered to pay $50,000 in reparations.

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

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

"When faced with a requirement to reduce his existing debt, Mr Johnston manipulated the system and submitted false sale and purchase agreements to his bank.

"The bank accepted the fictitious transactions," the SFO.

However, the properties were sold for a higher price 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 today the former lawyer had breached his professional duties and deceived the bank for personal gain.

"The first decision to take a dishonest path may seem insignificant but often means that there is no way back. Mr Johnston's decision left him in a far worse position, he failed to carry out his duty of care for his clients, he deceived the bank and now he will suffer the consequences of his actions."

- NZ Herald

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