A NZ prosecutor is seeking to have a former Dunedin lawyer extradited from Australia after she was found guilty in absentia last month of 46 charges of tax evasion worth more than $180,000.
Judge Paul Kellar issued a warrant for the arrest of Raelene Marie Kelly after she failed to appear in Dunedin District Court for her sentencing. Kellar cited a section of the Criminal Procedure Act, not allowing him to sentence her in absentia. Kelly failed to appear in court during the trial, claiming an anxiety disorder in an unsupported email.
The charges are from when she was sole director and shareholder of legal services company, Kelly Chambers Ltd in Dunedin, which was put into liquidation back in 2014 over outstanding tax obligations.
Kelly is an Australian citizen and is thought to currently be in Melbourne, but these reports are unconfirmed.
According to the Otago Daily Times, prosecutor David Tasker confirmed her extradition would be sought through the Australian courts, a process that might take several months.
“'We'll get there, eventually,” Kellar said of the repeat non-appearance.
Kellar told the court yesterday that the charges are relatively serious and that the maximum penalty for each charge is up to five years jail and/or a fine of up to $50,000.
The Law Society is expected to seek to have her disbarred, but privacy requirements do not allow the society to make any public comment.