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Lawyer pleads guilty to investment theft

Mon, 06 Oct 2014

Former Dunedin lawyer, John David Milne (79) has today pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to 34 Crimes Act charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The charges relate to Mr Milne eliciting money from clients or associates on the premise that he would invest that money and pay them a return on their invested funds. Mr Milne’s activity had hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme as he had in fact been paying investors from funds received for investment from other clients. Mr Milne had not actually invested any of his clients’ money.

Mr Milne operated the scheme for a period in excess of 20 years from 1991 to 2012 and involves a total figure of approximately $2.8 million.

Mr Milne had a loyal client base in Dunedin derived from his previous legal work in a sole practise.  SFO Director, Julie Read says that clients, who trusted Mr Milne, were keen to be involved with a scheme that paid such good returns.

“Mr Milne’s victims were vulnerable, and although there is a sense of relief that he has pleaded guilty, for many it is too late to recover from the impact of his dishonesty,” she said.

The SFO laid the charges in August last year. Mr Milne has been remanded on bail to reappear for sentencing on 26 November 2014.

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Lawyer pleads guilty to investment theft