Edward Errol Johnston (59) has appeared in the Auckland District Court today on Serious Fraud Office (SFO) charges.
The former solicitor, who was struck off by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal in 2013, faces three Crimes Act charges of ‘Dishonestly taking or using document’.
During the period December 2011 and January 2012, Mr Johnston owned properties in the Auckland area and had fallen into arrears on his loan repayments to his bank. The SFO alleges that when faced with a requirement to reduce his existing debt, he submitted false Sale and Purchase Agreements to his bank. The bank accepted the fictitious transactions. In reality, the properties were either sold for a higher price than he had stated, or transferred to another Trust and refinanced with a loan from another bank. In January 2012 Mr Johnston submitted an allegedly false Statement of Assets and Liabilities to the bank when obtaining the refinanced loan.
SFO director Julie Read
said, “These charges serve as a warning, both to banks, to maintain strict checks on all customers, and to property owners who consider dishonest means when needing to reduce levels of debt.
"There is no benefit to this type of deceit as it will be uncovered and charges will be laid. Unfortunately, manipulating the system can also hinder access for honest buyers who are looking to finance property.”
Mr Johnston did not enter a plea and will next appear in the Auckland District Court on 17 May 2016.