In February 2020, a senior Comancheros gang member and a lawyer were imprisoned for money laundering in relation to the importation of Class A and B drugs.
The Auckland lawyer, Andrew Simpson, was struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors in November.
We have little to add to Justice van Bohemen’s comments as he sentenced Mr Simpson to 2 years, 9 months imprisonment. It appears that he was not a sociopath, or greedy, but he certainly found himself out of his depth.
Having commenced his sentence in early 2020, we assume he’ll be out some time in 2021. He has five dependent children, but won’t be able to practice as a lawyer. What then?
Family comes first, and adverse circumstances will need to be worked around. We’re sure Mr Simpson has already heard of a former Hong Kong prosecutor who was jailed in that country in the 1990s for money laundering, then repatriated to New Zealand, reoffended, and was struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors by the NZ Law Society, then resurfaced around ten years ago as a Tauranga-based employment advocate. Maybe he has even considered following in his footsteps and has been perusing the Employment Relations Act 2000 while in jail.
As a business mentor I'd have to say that could work for him - there is no requirement for employment advocates to have a practicing certificate, or even a law degree. We know of former lawyers who have deregistered voluntarily, and become advocates.
The Employment Law Institute (ELINZ) won’t be happy, because one of its objectives is to “support and advocate for statutory regulation of lay employment advocacy services in New Zealand”. Unsurprisingly, the Tauranga advocate is not an ELINZ member. But going forward, we don’t think a parolee in search of a legitimate income is going to be overly concerned about being snubbed by ELINZ as long as he gets paying clients.
We just hope Mr Simpson doesn’t become another money laundering guru, whose "wisdom" is sought by lawyers whose clients want to gag an employee-whistleblower.