15 Dec 2016

Lawyer suspended for earning interest on client's money

7:22 pm on 15 December 2016

A lawyer who earned interest from his client's money rather than depositing it into a trust account has been suspended for four months.

040714. Photo Diego Opatowski / RNZ. Wellington High Court. Courtroom 1.

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Auckland lawyer Richard Zhao was found guilty of misconduct and has now been sentenced by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.

It found he kept $50,000 of his client's money in his personal accounts, some of which were interest-bearing, for six-and-a-half weeks.

He recklessly disregarded the rules surrounding trust accounts and put his client's funds at risk, the tribunal said.

Mr Zhao has repaid the woman $42,000 and has been ordered to pay almost $48,000 in costs to a standards committee.

He was appealing the decision to the High Court.