The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has ordered former Tauranga lawyer Vinay Deobhakta to be struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors.
Deobhakta was found guilty of misconduct when he acted for a client who was being pursued by the Inland Revenue Department for unpaid tax.
The former lawyer failed to account for $4,000 in cash given to him by his client, suggested to his client that a cheque for $21,000 payable to Inland Revenue be diverted to another purpose of no real value to the client, misled his client and sent the client abusive text messages after he instructed another lawyer.
As well as ordering him to be struck off, the tribunal has ordered that Deobhakta pay $4,000 in compensation to his former client, pay costs of $25,903, and reimburse hearing costs of $6,346.
New Zealand Law Society president Chris Moore says there was always some sadness when a lawyer’s actions meant they were stopped from practising law.
“It is a significant fall from grace. However, it is vital that clients of lawyers can have absolute trust in the integrity and judgement of their legal adviser…Serious breaches of the Conduct and Client Care Rules by one lawyer undermine the reputation of the whole profession.”
Deobhakta is the high-profile former barrister who was behind the bid by farmer Alan Crafar to reclaim his dairy empire.