High Court trial for former Dunedin lawyer

Fraud charges against disgraced former Dunedin lawyer John Milne will now be heard in High Court at Christchurch next year, following a Christchurch District Court hearing last Friday.

In August, the Serious Fraud Office laid 33 criminal charges in the District Court against Milne (78), including theft by a person in a special relationship.

In November last year Milne declared himself bankrupt and in April this year he was struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal, as not being a fit and proper person to be a lawyer.

Milne has been in Christchurch since 2008, but earlier had a sole practice and client base in Dunedin for several decades.

The High Court trial, on 33 charges, is scheduled to begin on June 2. Three weeks have been set aside for the hearing. Milne has not entered a plea.

The SFO believed Milne operated the scheme from 1991 to 2012, and the 33 charges related to about $2.8 million of funds received.

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

The charges stem from the New Zealand Law Society Otago Standards Committee having lodged a complaint with the SFO in June last year, over Milne's activities handling client funds.

Over many years, clients had given him sums ranging from the smallest, at $10,000, to almost $1 million.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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