An Auckland lawyer, struck off the register for fiddling with client funds, has today admitted criminal charges laid over his substantial stealing.

Richard Kristian Henry Holland pleaded guilty to three charges of theft and he was bailed until sentencing in the Auckland District Court later this year.

The 57-year-old, the principal at Remuera law firm Holland and Holland, pleaded-guilty to a charge of theft of $200,000 from a female client between August 2010 and March 2013.

He also admitted two further charges of theft of about $95,000 through dealing with money contrary to instructions from Law Society inspector Tim Maffey.


These arose over Holland taking fees from money held in his trust account.
A fourth charge of theft was withdrawn.

Earlier this year, Holland was struck off his professional register by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Tribunal for "misappropriating" client funds.

The victim of the $200,000 theft, who was a friend of Holland, complained to the law Society in March last year about his stealing proceeds from the sale of a property in Mt Maunganui.

According to a Law Society summary, Holland took about $39,000 in fees and "misappropriated" the rest.

He then asked the woman to sign a "sham" loan agreement about the money, designed to conceal his taking it without permission.

The lawyers standards committee said of the fee: "[The woman] was not provided with a proper account and it is difficult to conceive of how that amount could be justified as fees on the sale of a residential property."

The tribunal also heard about the improper fees taken from money in Holland's trust account.

He admitted to the tribunal he shouldn't continue as a lawyer, bringing to an end his 32-year career.