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Tribunal suspends lawyer for authorising a fraudulent document
19 May 2017
A New Zealand lawyer has been suspended for authorising a fraudulent document.
Lawyer Stephen Joseph Woulfe prepared and executed a document which included a statement that he had witnessed and identified a signatory, when in fact the signature was forged. The document was then used by a dodgy shareholder of a company to defraud it of funds. The fraudster's theft caused shares to nosedive, resulting in shareholders suffering considerable loss.
Woulfe was hauled before the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal where he admitted a charge of negligence or incompetence. The tribunal noted that although Woulfe was not actually a part of the fraudulent scheme, his negligence was of serious concern, adding "
it is crucial to the profession's reputation and functioning that lending institutions have full confidence, not only in a lawyer's honesty, but of his or her standards of diligence and care
"Yep, let's just skip to the signature bit"
The tribunal suspended Woulfe for two months and slapped him with a costs order to pay the Law Society NZ$10,000 and reimburse the NZ$5,066 cost of the hearing.
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