BC Lawyer Disbarred for Persistent Misconduct Had Done Work for ‘Individuals Related to Drug Crimes’

Hong Guo, a 2018 Richmond, B.C., mayoral candidate, declared 'ungovernable' by Law Society of B.C. following a long history of disciplinary actions against her.Lawyer Hong Guo, a former Richmond, B.C., mayoral candidate, has been declared "ungovernable" by the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) and disbarred from practising law in the province following a history of disciplinary actions against her that the regulatory body said was long and serious.An LSBC investigation into work that Ms. Guo "was doing for individuals related to drug crimes" formed part of the evidence detailed in the law society's Nov. 17 decision.In the announcement of the disbarment issued Nov. 20, the law society said the decision came after an LSBC Tribunal hearing panel reviewed Ms. Guo's "lengthy and serious disciplinary history consisting of numerous conduct issues concerning different circumstances dating back to 2012."Four hearing panels, including the most recent one, found wide-ranging misconduct by Ms. Guo—who was called to the bar in B.C. in 2009—that included misappropriation and other mishandling of trust funds, breaches of trust accounting rules, conflicts of interest, misrepresentations and false representations to clients and LSBC, failure to supervise staff, and violations of undertakings and LSBC orders. ‘Suspicious Clients’ The LSBC decision said the law society started its investigation into Ms. Guo's dealings with "suspicious clients" reportedly "related to drug crimes" after The Globe and Mail published an article in February 2018 titled "B.C. vows crackdown after Globe investigation reveals money-laundering scheme."The article said Ms. Guo had conducted transactions for high-profile alleged money launderer Paul King Jin of Richmond, B.C.The Globe article highlighted a 2014 lawsuit by Chujun Xiang, a student from a wealthy family, who claimed Mr. Jin threatened her with violence from "Vietnamese gang members." Ms. Xiang had pledged a condo she owned as collateral for money Mr. Jin had loaned to one of her friends, who didn't repay Mr. Jin, according to The Globe.Related Stories11/20/2023The Globe said Ms. Guo prepared the paperwork that facilitated Ms. Xiang signing over her property to Mr. Jin. It cited Ms. Xiang's claim in her lawsuit that Mr. Jin forced her to sign over full title to her $320,000 condo at Ms. Guo's law office.The LSBC's decision on disbarring Ms. Guo quoted her from the Globe article stating: "I am the biggest Chinese lawyer in the Chinese community. We do 600 million [dollars] a year in transactions. Maybe that is why we are a target for criminal activities. They know we are doing lots of work."The Epoch Times was unsuccessful in contacting Ms. Guo for comment through her law firm, whose website shows a message saying it is "currently offline."Commenting on the role of lawyers, The Globe article said it would be impossible for "shady operators" to carry out their activities without Canadian lawyers willing to give them a certain degree of legitimacy such as by drawing up agreements or filing lawsuits on their behalf. The article said several experts suggested that serious questions should be raised about lawyers who engage in these transactions. BC Money-Laundering Inquiry Mr. Jin was a central focus in B.C. Supreme Court judge Austin Cullen's inquiry into money laundering in the province.Among the testimonies the commission heard was one from an RCMP officer in March 2021 accusing Mr. Jin of involvement in a money-laundering network that moved money between Vancouver, Latin America, and Asia through underground Chinese banks.Additionally, an October 2020 Global News article, citing criminal intelligence sources, alleged that Mr. Jin "attended meetings organized in Canada by the Chinese Communist Party to interfere in Canadian politics and disrupt Canadian institutions."Mr. Jin has not been convicted or even charged despite the allegations. E-Nationalize, a probe that began in 2016, concluded in 2021 with police recommending charges against Mr. Jin for alleged money laundering and other offences. However, the B.C. Prosecution Service in March 2023 decided against laying charges, saying there wasn't a substantial likelihood of conviction and that the cost of a potential prosecution would outweigh the societal benefit to be gained.Following that announcement, B.C. Premier David Eby called for more stringent federal financial crime laws.The Epoch Times reached out to Mr. Jin for comment through his lawyer, Gregory DelBigio, but didn't hear back by publication time. Misconduct Record ‘Lengthy,’ ‘Highly Aggravating’ Ms. Guo also faced scrutiny related to alleged theft of trust funds by her bookkeeper and another employee. She allegedly provided pre-signed blank trust cheques to her bookkeeper, failed to properly supervise him, and breached the law society's trust accounting rules. This resulted in the theft of approximately $7.5 million from her trust account in 2016 while she was on vacat

BC Lawyer Disbarred for Persistent Misconduct Had Done Work for ‘Individuals Related to Drug Crimes’

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Hong Guo, a 2018 Richmond, B.C., mayoral candidate, declared 'ungovernable' by Law Society of B.C. following a long history of disciplinary actions against her.

Lawyer Hong Guo, a former Richmond, B.C., mayoral candidate, has been declared "ungovernable" by the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) and disbarred from practising law in the province following a history of disciplinary actions against her that the regulatory body said was long and serious.

An LSBC investigation into work that Ms. Guo "was doing for individuals related to drug crimes" formed part of the evidence detailed in the law society's Nov. 17 decision.
In the announcement of the disbarment issued Nov. 20, the law society said the decision came after an LSBC Tribunal hearing panel reviewed Ms. Guo's "lengthy and serious disciplinary history consisting of numerous conduct issues concerning different circumstances dating back to 2012."
Four hearing panels, including the most recent one, found wide-ranging misconduct by Ms. Guowho was called to the bar in B.C. in 2009that included misappropriation and other mishandling of trust funds, breaches of trust accounting rules, conflicts of interest, misrepresentations and false representations to clients and LSBC, failure to supervise staff, and violations of undertakings and LSBC orders.
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‘Suspicious Clients’

The LSBC decision said the law society started its investigation into Ms. Guo's dealings with "suspicious clients" reportedly "related to drug crimes" after The Globe and Mail published an article in February 2018 titled "B.C. vows crackdown after Globe investigation reveals money-laundering scheme."
The article said Ms. Guo had conducted transactions for high-profile alleged money launderer Paul King Jin of Richmond, B.C.

The Globe article highlighted a 2014 lawsuit by Chujun Xiang, a student from a wealthy family, who claimed Mr. Jin threatened her with violence from "Vietnamese gang members." Ms. Xiang had pledged a condo she owned as collateral for money Mr. Jin had loaned to one of her friends, who didn't repay Mr. Jin, according to The Globe.

The Globe said Ms. Guo prepared the paperwork that facilitated Ms. Xiang signing over her property to Mr. Jin. It cited Ms. Xiang's claim in her lawsuit that Mr. Jin forced her to sign over full title to her $320,000 condo at Ms. Guo's law office.

The LSBC's decision on disbarring Ms. Guo quoted her from the Globe article stating: "I am the biggest Chinese lawyer in the Chinese community. We do 600 million [dollars] a year in transactions. Maybe that is why we are a target for criminal activities. They know we are doing lots of work."
The Epoch Times was unsuccessful in contacting Ms. Guo for comment through her law firm, whose website shows a message saying it is "currently offline."
Commenting on the role of lawyers, The Globe article said it would be impossible for "shady operators" to carry out their activities without Canadian lawyers willing to give them a certain degree of legitimacy such as by drawing up agreements or filing lawsuits on their behalf. The article said several experts suggested that serious questions should be raised about lawyers who engage in these transactions.
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BC Money-Laundering Inquiry

Mr. Jin was a central focus in B.C. Supreme Court judge Austin Cullen's inquiry into money laundering in the province.
Among the testimonies the commission heard was one from an RCMP officer in March 2021 accusing Mr. Jin of involvement in a money-laundering network that moved money between Vancouver, Latin America, and Asia through underground Chinese banks.
Additionally, an October 2020 Global News article, citing criminal intelligence sources, alleged that Mr. Jin "attended meetings organized in Canada by the Chinese Communist Party to interfere in Canadian politics and disrupt Canadian institutions."
Mr. Jin has not been convicted or even charged despite the allegations. E-Nationalize, a probe that began in 2016, concluded in 2021 with police recommending charges against Mr. Jin for alleged money laundering and other offences. However, the B.C. Prosecution Service in March 2023 decided against laying charges, saying there wasn't a substantial likelihood of conviction and that the cost of a potential prosecution would outweigh the societal benefit to be gained.
Following that announcement, B.C. Premier David Eby called for more stringent federal financial crime laws.
The Epoch Times reached out to Mr. Jin for comment through his lawyer, Gregory DelBigio, but didn't hear back by publication time.
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Misconduct Record ‘Lengthy,’ ‘Highly Aggravating’

Ms. Guo also faced scrutiny related to alleged theft of trust funds by her bookkeeper and another employee. She allegedly provided pre-signed blank trust cheques to her bookkeeper, failed to properly supervise him, and breached the law society's trust accounting rules. This resulted in the theft of approximately $7.5 million from her trust account in 2016 while she was on vacation, the LSBC's decision said.

Subsequently, she misappropriated trust funds by using trust money from some clients to cover trust shortages for other clients, said the decision.

These events and others led to the LSBC imposing various conditions on Ms. Guo's practice over the years. These included provisions disallowing her from handling trust funds and requiring her to practise only under another lawyer's supervision, under what's called a practice supervision agreement (PSA).

The decision said the PSA was in place from June 2017 until March 2023, when Ms. Guo began serving a one-year suspension. The LSBC had sought her disbarment in 2021, but the hearing panel gave her a one-year suspension instead. The law society then brought forward a review application seeking to have her disbarred. However, in March 2023 the review panel ruled against it and instead upheld the suspension. The panel also required Ms. Guo to work under another lawyer's supervision upon her return to practice.

The LSBC's investigation into Ms. Guo's alleged misconduct began during her mayoral run in Richmond in the 2018 municipal election, in which she won 6.1 percent of the vote.
In declaring that Ms. Guo is ungovernable and disbarring her, the LSBC Tribunal's hearing panel referenced the $7.5 million theft case alongside a long list of other misconduct, including her alleged involvement in a conflict of interest in a real estate deal, which occurred approximately between May 2013 and April 2016, according to the LSBC decision issued July 27 this year.
"The Panel finds that the Law Society has clearly proven, on a balance of probabilities, that the Respondent is ungovernable," the Nov. 17 decision stated.
"Her PCR [professional conduct record] is lengthy, serious and highly aggravating. She has shown little insight into the findings made against her and continues to see herself as a victim. She has taken almost no steps to educate herself on her responsibilities, to train her staff or organize her practice."
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Defence Submission

The Nov. 17 decision said that Ms. Guo, in her submission in her defence, sought to have the LSBC Tribunal hearing panel consider that she did not "financially benefit from her misconduct" or "detrimentally impact her clients."

Ms. Guo also argued against disbarment, saying that a one-year suspension, served concurrently with her existing one, would be more appropriate.

"The Respondent submits that when these factors are considered in their entirety it is clear that nothing beyond a concurrent suspension is required to maintain public confidence in the legal profession," the tribunal decision states.

Ms. Guo also urged the panel to consider "the impact of systemic discrimination and gender-based discrimination." However, the panel said she provided no evidence that "her racial background or her gender made it more difficult for her to succeed as a lawyer."

"There has to be a causal connection between the systemic racism and the lawyer’s actions giving rise to the finding of misconduct. Here, there is no evidence of systemic racism and no evidence of a causal connection," the tribunal decision reads.

Ultimately, the LSBC Tribunal determined that the only appropriate penalty to protect the B.C. public was to disbar Ms. Guo.

"This panel has no confidence that the respondent is rehabilitating herself or improving her methods of practice," the tribunal decision said. "Her overall pattern of conduct is entrenched non-compliance and non-co-operation."