Kenneth Yee has been struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.
The New Zealand Law Society
issued a statement yesterday which said the tribunal found Yee had both diverted $95,706 of client fees to companies he was associated with and taken $505,155 from the firm’s trust account into one of his companies in a series of unauthorised loans.
Yee - a former National Party candidate and Manukau City councillor - had paid back the unauthorised loans, but still owed the $95,706 of fees to his former firm.
His misconduct would “clearly be regarded by lawyers of good standing as disgraceful or dishonourable”, the statement said.
It was also considered to be a wilful or reckless contravention of the trust accounting regulations.
“A solicitor’s trust account is aptly named,” the society’s national prosecutions manager Mark Treleaven said.
“The reputation of the legal profession stands on ensuring that a person can have absolute confidence that any such funds will be securely and safely held in trust by their lawyer.
“The misuse of funds held by lawyers on behalf of their clients will always be totally unacceptable.”
The society will not countenance any departures from the Conduct and Client Care Rules and Trust Account Regulations, he said.