Belgrave lawyer just "following instructions" in allegedly securing unlawful advances

by NZ Lawyer05 Mar 2014
Former Central Hawkes Bay mayor and Waipukurao lawyer, Hugh Edward Staples Hamilton, is on trial in the High Court at Auckland for allegedly helping former property developer, Raymond Schofield, arrange the purchase of Belgrave Finance so that Schofield’s identity was concealed.

However, according to the New Zealand Herald, Hamilton’s barrister has told the High Court his client is innocent, gained nothing from the alleged offending and was “following instructions”.

Schofield bought Belgrave in 2005 for $3m and is alleged to have borrowed from the firm either directly or through other companies he controlled.

The New Zealand Herald reports that, over a two-year period after the purchase, Belgrave allegedly loaned $18 million to Schofield or entities controlled by him. Hamilton allegedly assisted on related-party loans worth $12.6 million, preparing documents and advising Belgrave on "these unlawful advances".

Hamilton was liable for charges of theft by a person in a special relationship because of his alleged role in helping with the transactions, despite knowing they breached Belgrave’s trust deed, according to Crown lawyer Nick Williams in his opening statements to the court yesterday.

However, Hamilton’s lawyer, John Robertson claimed his client was innocent and was "following instructions in his capacity as a lawyer”.

"Nothing he did was out of the ordinary duties as a solicitor. Like any conveyancing lawyer working for a bank or for a borrower," Robertson told Justice John Faire in the defence opening statements.

Hamilton's trial is set down to take eight weeks.