The chief executive of a legal firm stepped down soon
after it was discovered he did not have the law degree he
claimed to have.
Michael Vukcevic left Auckland firm Baldwins, which
specialises in intellectual property law, for "personal
reasons"according to a press release in November.
The 43-year-old is described as an experienced business
leader with a "dynamic career"who has worked closely with
Government agencies negotiating free trade agreements in the
A Herald investigation can reveal that Mr Vukcevic does not
have a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) as stated on the curriculum
vitae he submitted for the job two years earlier.
His CV submitted to a recruitment company states Mr Vukcevic
obtained the LLB and a Bachelor of Arts after studying at
Victoria University of Wellington between 1989 and 1992.
However, questions were raised inside Baldwins about the bona
fides of the qualifications and the firm conducted an
internal investigation into his background.
The inquiry discovered that Mr Vukcevic did not complete the
legal qualification as claimed and he left the Queen St law
firm in October.
Alison Munro, an administration manager at Victoria
University, also confirmed in an email to the Herald that Mr
Vukcevic has only a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Economic
History, granted in December 1993.
"Mr Vukcevic has not completed a Bachelor of Laws at Victoria
University of Wellington," said Ms Munro.
A press release from the firm, which has 10 partners and 30
lawyers or patent attorneys, announcing that Mr Vukcevic had
"stepped down for personal reasons"was not issued until mid
Questions about Mr Vukcevic's qualifications and the nature
of his departure from Baldwins were not answered by his
Philip Thoreau, a senior partner at Baldwins, responded to
repeated questions from the Herald with the same answer as
the November press release.
"All I am able to say is that he left for personal reasons.
I'm sorry, I can't help you there."
Mr Vukcevic's profile on the Baldwins' website described him
as an experienced business leader with a "dynamic
career"including being the chief executive of Pharmaceutical
Solutions Ltd, a clinical research organisation that manages
pharmaceutical and medical device clinical trials across New
Zealand and Australia.
He also worked at accounting firm Ernst and Young and dairy
giant Fonterra, and is the current chairman of the New
Zealand Middle East Business Council, which works closely
with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New
Zealand Trade & Enterprise to develop business
opportunities in the region.
Mr Vukcevic, as the chairman, helped organise a business
delegation spearheaded by Trade Minister Tim Groser to the
Middle East as part of free trade agreement negotiations
potentially worth billions of dollars to the New Zealand
He also spoke alongside Foreign Affairs Minister Murray
McCully at the launch of the "GCC Strategy"- a Government
document designed to "open doors"to the Middle East - which
was attended by diplomats, government officials and business
leaders at the Cloud last June.
Mr Vukcevic was previously on the board of Transparency
International New Zealand, a not-for-profit organisation
dedicated to promote transparency, accountability and
integrity in Government and civil society.
He did not respond to Herald phone calls, emails and letters
asking for comment.
A woman who answered the phone at his North Shore home said:
"Excuse me? Are you freaking kidding me? What has that got to
do ... what business is that of yours?
"Well, I'm sorry. Michael is unavailable. And I don't have a
number you can reach him on."
Mr Vukcevic has not been investigated by police in relation
to his actions and has not been charged with any crime.
Dishonestly taking or using a document with "intent to obtain
any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable
consideration"is an offence under section 228 of the Crimes