Thief accountant struck off

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A Queenstown accountant who stole more than $12,000 from two bowling organisations has been struck off by his professional body.

Eric Lee was deregistered by the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA) at a disciplinary tribunal in Wellington on June 13.

The 74-year-old was a part-time consultant accountant for Crowe Horwath until he was arrested last December and charged with theft under $500, forgery and theft by a person in a special relationship.

Lee misappropriated $12,000 from Central Otago Bowls Inc while acting as its treasurer and tournament secretary, and covert cameras caught him taking a total of $465 in cash from the Queenstown Bowls Club’s till last year.

He told police he took the money to fund a gambling habit.

Lee was convicted and sentenced to four months’ home detention and ordered to pay reparation when he appeared in the Queenstown Court in March.

The ICA’s decision, which has been published on its website, states Lee’s convictions “brought discredit to the profession”.

His offending constituted “a serious breach of trust” and took place over several years.

The tribunal notes Lee’s “previously unblemished record over several decades” and his payment of full reparation to his victims.

It also acknowledges his remorse, early acknowledgement of guilt and co-operation with the police and the ICA’s disciplinary process.

“However, as the member has acknowledged, these factors do not outweigh the seriousness of the member’s offending.

“Honesty and integrity, particularly around the handling of monies, is a key hallmark of the profession.”

The tribunal ordered Lee to pay $2500 towards the costs of the hearing and his interim suspension.

Otago Daily Times