Solicitor pleads guilty to cheating charges

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Former solicitor Edward Errol Johnston, who is facing charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has appeared in the Auckland District Court to enter a guilty plea.

Mr Johnston appeared to answer three Crimes Act charges of ‘Dishonestly taking or using document.’

He pleaded guilty to all three charges.

Between 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.

When faced with a requirement to reduce his existing debt, Mr Johnston manipulated the system. He submitted false Sale and Purchase Agreements to his bank, which accepted the fictitious transactions.

Reality different

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 a false Statement of Assets and Liabilities to the bank when obtaining the refinanced loan.

SFO Chief Executive Julie Read said, “These offences occurred as a result of an attempt to avoid a troubled financial situation. The reality is that in deceiving the bank, Mr Johnston has placed himself in a much more serious position which will result in a criminal conviction.  Such a course should never be considered as a viable option and the SFO will prosecute all serious fraud matters brought to our attention to protect other investors and New Zealand’s reputation as a corruption free market.”

Mr Johnston will appear for sentencing in the Auckland District Court on November 10, 2016.

-Serious Fraud Office Press Release

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