A convicted failed finance company director has been suspended from practising law for a year.

Dominion Finance and North South Finance director Robert Barry Whale was acquitted of theft by person in a special relationship charges in a Serious Fraud Office case last year.

But the lawyer — in his mid 60s — was last year sentenced on separate charges to 12 months' home detention, 250 hours of community service and ordered to pay $75,000 in reparations after he admitted making untrue statements in offer documents.

The Auckland solicitor, yet to finish serving his home detention at an Epsom property, appeared before the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal in Auckland in March.


He did not contest the charge brought by the Law Society that his convictions amounted to conduct that would tend to bring the profession into disrepute.

In a statement yesterday, the Law Society said the tribunal had suspended Whale from practice as a barrister and solicitor for 12 months commencing from March 20 and that he was ordered to pay costs.

New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore said the High Court found that Whale's conduct amounted to "gross negligence" and that he had admitted he had not read finance company prospectuses before signing them.

"Our securities laws are there to protect the public and to keep investors fully informed. The public is entitled to expect that members of the legal profession will perform to a high standard and ensure that protection is maintained," Moore said.

The Law Society had suggested a suspension of at least seven months.