A former Dunedin barrister who fled to Australia has been struck off by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal over tax evasion offences, totalling more than $180,000.
Raeline Marine Kelly did not appear at the criminal trial to face 46 charges despite signalling her intention to do so. She also did not appear at the Tribunal hearing.
The disciplinary charge alleged that she had been convicted of offences punishable by imprisonment which reflect on her fitness to practise or bring the legal profession into disrepute.
Ms Kelly’s convictions included charges of aiding and abetting her incorporated law firm to commit offences under the Tax Administration Act 1994 which were proven in the Dunedin District Court in 2015.
31 charges related to her knowingly applying PAYE deductions to a purpose other than payment to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue. 15 charges related to her knowingly failing to provide a GST return to Inland Revenue.
The unpaid PAYE and associated deductions totalled $60,993 and the GST owing was $122,633. The total unpaid tax liability was $183,626.
New Zealand Law Society National Prosecutions Manager Mark Treleaven says instead of paying the $60,993 to the Commissioner, she used the money for personal expenses such as mortgage payments, overseas travel, alcohol, private school fees and a monthly payment for a Jaguar motor vehicle.
The Disciplinary Tribunal struck Ms Kelly off the roll and ordered her to pay the New Zealand Law Society costs of $12,683 and to reimburse the costs of the hearing.