October trial for Milne

The trial date for fraud charges brought against disgraced former Dunedin lawyer John Milne has been moved from June to October, understood to be because of pressure on court times in Christchurch.

Three weeks have been set aside for the trial. It is almost three years since the Law Society launched an investigation into Milne, after complaints from clients.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) then became involved, laying 33 criminal charges against Milne (78) last August, including theft by a person in a special relationship.

Milne has been in Christchurch since 2008 but earlier had a sole practice and client base in Dunedin for several decades. The 33 charges relate to about $2.8 million of funds received during the latter period.

Over many years, clients had given Milne sums ranging from $10,000 to almost $1 million.

The SFO alleges none of the money was invested and some early investors were repaid with monies received from later clients.

In November 2012, Milne declared himself bankrupt and in April 2013 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.

Law Society inspectors found no paper trail showing Milne had invested the funds he received, either in receipts of any interest payments or lending to a third party.

-simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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