Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Struck-off lawyer to stand trial on 33 criminal charges

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A South Island lawyer struck off over accusations of stealing nearly $3 million from clients will stand trial later this year on 33 criminal charges.

John David Milne, a 79-year-old lawyer from Dunedin, and latterly Christchurch, was investigated by the Serious Fraud Office over alleged long-term fraud.

The SFO laid the criminal charges, which include theft by a person in special relationship, at Christchurch District Court last August.

Milne denies the charges, and his trial is set down to start on October 6 at Christchurch District Court, with a final callover on September 26.

The charges claim he elicited money from clients or associates on the premise that he would invest that money and pay them a return on their invested funds.

The SFO alleges that none of that money had been invested, and that some early investors had been repaid with monies received from later clients.

It is believed that Milne operated the scheme from 1991 to 2012, and the charges relate to approximately $2.8m.

Milne had a client base in Dunedin derived from his previous legal work in a sole practice there.

Last year, a Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal struck him off its roll of barristers and solicitors.

New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore said the alleged gross abuse of trust was "reprehensible".

Milne had his own Dunedin legal practice from 1960 until it was bought out by another local law firm, Craig Paddon Law, in 2008.

He worked in their Christchurch office from 2008, but left in June last year.

- APNZ

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