Lawyer to repay $454,000

by Hannah Norton24 Jun 2015
A Wellington lawyer has been ordered to repay $454,000 in fictitious gains following his investment in a Ponzi scheme.

Experienced litigator Hamish McIntosh – who up until a Court of Appeal ruling last week had name suppression – appeared before Wellington’s High Court yesterday.

McIntosh has over 25 years’ litigation experience, and was a litigation partner at Russell McVeagh for 13 years. He is currently based at Woodward Street Chambers in Wellington.

In 2007 McIntosh borrowed $500,000 to put into fraudster’s David Ross’s business, Ross Asset Management.

He closed the portfolio over four years later, by when it was held to have grown to $954,000.

Liquidators of Ross’s collapsed business then sought to recover the funds from McIntosh in March, along with nearly 200 other investors who got around a total of $30m in “fictitious profits”.

Justice Alan MacKenzie ruled that while McIntosh would have to pay back the fictitious gains, he was entitled to keep his $500,000 principal investment.

“There is no suggestion that the respondent was other than a good faith recipient of the payments,” he said in his judgement.

“He is in all respects an innocent investor.”

But, the judge acknowledged, due to the publicity surrounding the scheme “investors knew that the returns which had been reported to them were fictitious.”

“The proposition that an investor who had been paid fictitious returns would be entitled to retain those returns (which, on the information then available, must have come from the funds of other investors) must have been at least questionable.”

Acting for McIntosh yesterday were leading Wellington based and Queen’s Counsel Justin Smith and Jack Wass. Smith is a former Crown Prosecutor and was also a partner at Russell McVeagh.

Bell Gully acted for the applicants.


  • by Cheryl Simes 24/06/2015 12:53:32 p.m.

    So he made $500K profit which he knew had been fleeced from other 'investors', and he needed a Court to tell him to pay it back? (And he was not exactly hard up.) No wonder people don't think very much of lawyers. Does this constitute conduct bringing the profession into disrepute? (Don't answer that. Of course it doesn't. Greed is what we are supposed to be motivated by, and as long as it's 'legal', anything goes. The reputation of the profession is merely confirmed.)

  • by Ken 30/06/2015 10:08:58 a.m.

    actually he made $454k profit that he found out had been fleeced from other investors a year or so after he had committed it to another project. Like any person who founds themselves in that situation he was entitled to pursue a statutory defence which on the face of it looked pretty compelling. I take it any client in that position who came to see you Cheryl would get a lecture on morality rather than advice on their legal position?

  • by Cheryl 30/06/2015 12:07:56 p.m.

    I accept your correction - I rounded up the $ and the article did not mention the fact that the funds had been committed to another project, which I have since learnt of from other reports. If I were asked to provide a legal opinion I would advise on the law. The client then has the option of doing the right thing which may not be the same as maintaining their legal rights. If a lawyer in that position asked my views on what he should do, I would explore options with him. Just as with other clients who are embroiled in conflict or disputes.