A lawyer who was jailed after admitting laundering $2.2 million for members of the Comancheros Motorcycle Club has been struck off.
Andrew Neill Simpson was jailed in February for his part in a sophisticated money and drug operation.
At sentencing Justice Gerard Van Bohemen said Simpson not only used his legal knowledge to facilitate the offending, but he knew it was wrong.
“You used your specialist knowledge as a lawyer to advise on structuring the laundering scheme across the multiple trust accounts you set up.”
“You also channelled money through your solicitor’s trust account and made deposits into the accounts yourself. You knew what you were doing was dodgy,” Justice Van Bohemen said.
Earlier this month a hearing was held at the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal between the National Standards Committee and Simpson in front of Judge John Adams.
At the hearing Simpson admitted one charge under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (LCA) after he was convicted of the laundering charges.
Simpson accepted the Standards Committee’s submission that he ought to be struck off.
Intercepted phone calls revealed Simpson told one of the others involved in the scheme that if he deposited “nine” at each “drop” it would not get “flagged” by the banks.
At sentencing, Justice Van Bohemen said Simpson was a key facilitator of the money laundering scheme.
“You used your professional skill and knowledge and your solicitor’s trust fund both to make happen and to lend respectability to an operation laundering large amounts of money obtained from serious drug offending.”
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The Tribunal said Simpson’s offending demonstrated he was unfit to continue practising as a lawyer.
”We find that Mr Simpson must be struck off in order to protect the reputation of the profession and in order to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the profession,” the Tribunal ruled.
Judge John Adams acknowledged Simpson’s previous good character and remorse.
“The consequences of his criminal actions have affected his wife and children, among others. Many people provided references for him, puzzled by his criminal offending.
“Clearly, those aspects of his character that found expression in his criminal behaviour were covert,” Judge Adams said.
Simpson was ordered to pay the New Zealand Law Society $386 in costs.
Earlier this year, the president of the Comanchero Motorcycle Club Pasilika Naufahu was found guilty of money laundering and conspiring to supply pseudoephedrine, a precursor to methamphetamine.
He was arrested alongside Simpson following a series of raids across Auckland in April 2019 in which more than $3.7 million in assets was seized along with luxury cars, motorbikes, high-end luggage and jewellery.