The chief executive of a legal firm who stepped down after an
internal investigation into his qualifications has admitted
he does not have a law degree as claimed.
But Michael Vukcevic says he "did not seek to mislead" his
former employer Baldwins, which specialises in intellectual
property law, and the Auckland firm never promoted him as a
A Herald investigation revealed yesterday that the
43-year-old, described as an experienced business leader with
a proven track record, does not have a Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
as stated on the curriculum vitae he submitted for the chief
executive role in late 2011.
He resigned from Baldwins in November for "personal reasons"
after an internal employment inquiry also discovered he did
not complete the legal qualification at Victoria University
Victoria University has raised questions as to how Baldwins -
and the recruitment company which put him forward for the
role - did not properly vet his credentials.
"Qualifications awarded by a university are a matter of
public record and employers should check this as part of an
appointment process," said Professor Penny Boumelha, deputy
"The university in-house solicitor will be writing to Mr
Vukcevic today reminding him that all graduates must
accurately represent their qualifications. At this stage, we
are not planning to make a complaint to the police."
Cook Executive Recruitment handled the applications for the
role at Baldwins but director Tim Cook declined to discuss
what checks were made on Mr Vukcevic and referred the Herald
Phone calls to Baldwins chairwoman Sue Ironside for comment
were redirected to Piet de Jong, who works for PR firm
"Michael Vukcevic resigned from his employment at Baldwins
for personal reasons in November last year. And the company
has nothing further to add on the matter. That's our
position," said Mr de Jong.
Mr Vukcevic, who has worked closely with government ministers
and agencies negotiating free trade agreements in the Middle
East, released a statement yesterday confirming he does not
hold a law degree "from any university in New Zealand and
have never worked in a legal role".
He said he didn't seek to mislead Baldwins, his appointment
didn't involve legal work and he'd never been held out as a
lawyer in any website profile.
The statement does not explain how or why his CV states he
obtained the law degree.
Michelle Boag, executive adviser to the Middle East Business
Council of which Mr Vukcevic is the chairman, said the
revelations yesterday were a "storm in a tea cup".
Mr Vukcevic had never claimed to have a law degree when
dealing with the council, she said.
"As I understand it, he should have had the word 'incomplete'
next to LLB. Having said that, I don't know why it wasn't
there," she told RadioLive. "This is a voluntary board,
people are nominated and elected. Like all council members,
he's a volunteer, he receives no benefits from the work that
- by Jared Savage of the NZ Herald