One of the most controversial people in Richmond’s legal profession was found guilty of professional misconduct under a Law Society of BC tribunal.
Real estate and immigration attorney Hong Guo, who failed to become Mayor of Richmond in 2018, improperly oversaw her accountant, improperly delegating escrow keeping and later embezzling trust funds in the millions, as the company decided last month would have.
The company also found that Guo had violated several obligations and orders imposed earlier this year after an investigation into their practices.
In her defense, she claimed the aforementioned accountant stole $ 7.5 million from her law firm’s escrow accounts in 2016 before laundering the money at a casino and fleeing to China.
Guo told the company’s Disciplinary Committee that her mistake was “placing trust in her co-worker who used her trust to commit a shrewd fraud,” and that her actions did not constitute professional misconduct.
She said her subsequent attempts to repay her customers the “stolen” $ 7.5 million, which the company viewed as a violation of trust accounting rules, were an honest offer to minimize the overall impact of the missing rust funds on their customers .
Society disagreed, however, and Guo is now facing a potential fine of up to $ 50,000, conditions or restrictions on her practice, suspension, or even expulsion from her profession if she is recalled for a disciplinary hearing next March.
“The Law Society says the theft took place because (Guo) himself created the casual conditions under which the theft could take place,” the society’s decision said.
“(Guo) has not properly overseen her accountant and she has not followed best practices in running a very busy real estate practice. (Guo’s lack of oversight, coupled with the use of pre-signed blank trust checks and violations of the Law Society’s fiduciary accounting regulations, set the stage for approximately $ 7.5 million in employee theft. “
The decision reads: “From late February to March 31, 2016, the former transportation assistant was provided trust funds of USD 7.5 million using the pre-signed blank trust checks. On April 1, 2016, Guo discovered the theft when she could not find her accountant to review her monthly trust vote statements. “
The panel heard earlier this year how Guo had deposited $ 2.6 million of her own money and $ 4 million from an insurance policy to repay the missing million.
It was in 2018, around the same time she was not running for Mayor of Richmond, that society began investigating Guo’s affairs.