• BCom/LLB(Hons) – University of Auckland – 1991
  • LLM(Hons) – University of Cambridge – 1994
  • Admitted as barrister and solicitor, High Court of New Zealand – 1992


David Johnstone has recently moved to the independent bar following a lengthy period as a partner in a top tier law firm, practising in regulatory and particularly criminal litigation.

A member of the Serious Fraud Office’s prosecutors panel, David has extensive experience in commercial and regulatory compliance, particularly in anti-money laundering enforcement, and prudential supervision.

Case Highlights

Honk tax evasion

High Court prosecution of various ‘Honk group’ companies and directors based on deductions claimed for depreciation and interest, including consideration of ‘sham’ transactions.

Operation Ark litigation

Acted in substantial High Court jury trial, and in Supreme Court appeal, where proceedings relating to controlled drug analogues culminated in general restatement of mens rea (in Cameron v R [2018] 1 NZLR 161).

DIA v Ping An Finance

First New Zealand proceedings seeking pecuniary penalties for breaches of AML/CFT regime – penalties of $5.29 million awarded.

Jiaxin Finance, Fu and Che

First New Zealand prosecution of AML/CFT regime criminal offences.

Bublitz and others

Lengthy proceedings before High Court and Court of Appeal – prosecution for theft by person in special relationship arising from alleged breach of ‘related party’ prohibitions in finance company debenture trust deeds and post-GFC Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee.

LINZ v Carbon Conscious

High Court proceedings considering approach to setting pecuniary penalties under Overseas Investment Act 2005.

What Others Say


  • The Reckless Launderer: an arrested development [2010] NZLJ 305

  • The Reckless Launderer [2005] NZLJ 201

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  • New Zealand Law Society
  • New Zealand Bar Association
  • Transparency International
  • Legal Research Foundation