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Lawyer ran Ponzi scheme

A former lawyer has pleaded guilty to running what looks like a Ponzi scheme, the Serious Fraud Office says.

Monday, October 6th 2014, 3:57PM

John David Milne today pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to 34 Crimes Act charges.

They relate to 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.

Milne’s activity had hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme as he had been paying investors from funds received for investment from other clients. Milne had not actually invested any of his clients’ money.

Milne operated the scheme for more than 20 years from 1991 to 2012 and the scheme involved about $2.8 million.

Milne had a loyal client base in Dunedin derived from his previous legal work in a sole practise. 

SFO director Julie Read said clients, who trusted 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. Milne has been remanded on bail to reappear for sentencing next month.

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