A B.C. lawyer, whose identity is being withheld by the Law Society of B.C., has been cited for moving millions of dollars through trust accounts for clients suspected of criminal stock market manipulation.
The Oct. 26 citation names "Lawyer 19" and outlines several alleged violations. The society, a self-regulatory body run by lawyers, has not explained why the citation is anonymized.
The conduct is said to relate to Lawyer 19, "assisting in, encouraging and/or facilitating dishonesty, crime or fraud."
Some of the allegations of "professional misconduct" appear linked to international business, with at least some transactions relating to Hong Kong. However, all the funds Lawyer 19 dealt with were either Canadian or American.
Specific allegations include taking direction from entities or individuals "in objectively suspicious circumstances" while flowing money through trust accounts without legal services and failing to make reasonable inquiries in the face of such circumstances. The allegations are violations of the Legal Profession Act.
As well, via his misconduct, Lawyer 19 is said to have assisted several entities or individuals, who also anonymized, "in a fraudulent scheme to manipulate the securities market."
The citation outlines some specific alleged violations, although it's not made clear if or how they may be connected:
- Between approximately Aug. 18, 2011 and July 25, 2019, Lawyer 19 improperly "used or permitted the use of [their] firm's trust accounts to receive and disburse some or all of $250,015 CAD and $646,061 USD."
- Between approximately April 15, 2016 and March 30, 2017, Lawyer 19 improperly "permitted the use of [their] firm's trust accounts to receive and disburse some or all of $1,525,421 USD."
- Between Aug. 30, 2016 and July 9, 2019, Lawyer 19 "disbursed some or all of $121,171.75 CAD and $807,907 USD" via trust accounts while failing to "be on guard against becoming the tool or dupe of an unscrupulous client or other persons."
- Lawyer 19 also improperly "received and disbursed $50,000 CAD and $478,720 USD between approximately Sept. 10, 2015 and March 27, 2020."
The society also alleges Lawyer 19 "failed to adequately supervise legal assistants, accountants, and other staff, such that funds were received or disbursed, or both, from your trust account on behalf of one or more of" several anonymized entities "without adequate documentation for the funds, or in the absence of any substantial legal services, or both."
The citation can be found online. A hearing date has not been set, and the allegations remain unproven by a panel of adjudicators.