Suspended Richmond lawyer faces eight more cases of alleged misconduct
A Richmond real estate lawyer who has been suspended for one year for her mishandling of trust accounts from which $7.5 million disappeared in 2016, faces numerous other disciplinary allegations, according to the B.C. Law Society.
In eight separate actions, six of those filed in 2020 and 2021, Hong Guo, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Richmond in 2018, faces allegations related to conflict of interest in the purchase of a sawmill, a real estate development project, and a purchase of shares in a company. She also faces allegations of misconduct for misappropriation or improperly handling client payments and mishandling trust funds.
The allegations include that Guo improperly handled money for a company for which she was removed as a signing authority and for violating a 2019 order against practicing law when she was temporarily suspended from doing so.
The allegations in most of the cases have not been heard by a law society tribunal (the body that adjudicates disciplinary matters) and have not been proven.
The law society had sought disbarment of Guo for the case in which she received a one-year suspension, but it is not known at this juncture what penalties, if any, she would face in the other cases. If allegations are proven, penalties are based on the facts of each case and rulings in similar cases.
In one of the eight cases, a hearing has been held, and Guo has been found to have mishandled trust funds, where she deposited cash advances for legal services in relation to a share purchase and transfer, a marriage agreement and several wills into her general account and not a trust account.
At the time, Guo was also restricted from handling any trust funds on an order from the B.C. Law Society.
In that case, Guo had argued that advance payment for a “fixed-fee” legal service becomes the lawyer’s property and therefore did not constitute trust money and didn’t need to be deposited in a trust account.