Guo was subject to a misconduct investigation when she ran for Richmond mayor in 2018. (Hong Guo/Twitter)
Among the various breaches of the law society’s code of conduct — including a “consistent failure” to respond to inquiries, misleading behaviour toward clients, and breaching an order to not handle trust money — Guo also was found to have neglected her duties when it came to reporting money in a trust account.
“On November 4, 2018 the respondent wrote to Mr. Wedel, a staff lawyer at the law society and stated that real estate transactions could not be used for money laundering,” the panel wrote.
“The respondent is wrong and real estate transactions are at risk for being used to launder money.”
Guo’s misconduct, relating to the $7.5 million theft by her bookkeper in 2016, was being investigated at the time of her run for mayor of Richmond in 2018. She received about five per cent of the vote in that election.
The tribunal found that on discovering the thefts, Guo misappropriated money from other clients to complete pending real estate transactions.
The clients impacted were eventually compensated by Guo personally and by $4 million paid out by an insurance policy.
Guo says behaviour was not intentionally misleading
In her response to the investigation, Guo submitted that she did not financially benefit from any misconduct and it did not detrimentally impact her clients.
She argued that disbarment was not merited, and instead argued for a one-year suspension to be served concurrently with her current one.
“The respondent submits that any disciplinary penalty must take account of the oftentimes unconscious bias of how non-Asian lawyers perceive Asian lawyers,” the tribunal decision reads.
Guo also told the panel that any wrongdoing was “largely due to her busy practice and not to any intentional or premeditated malice, or deceit.”
However, the tribunal found that the only appropriate penalty to protect the B.C. public was Guo’s disbarment.
“This panel has no confidence that the respondent is rehabilitating herself or improving her methods of practice,” reads the decision. “Her overall pattern of conduct is entrenched non-compliance and non-co-operation.”
CBC News attempted to contact Guo through her law firm, but its website was offline.