B.C. lawyer and former Richmond mayoral candidate Hong Guo has been disbarred, after the Law Society of B.C. determined her lengthy history of professional misconduct had made her “ungovernable.”
Guo has been the subject of conduct issues as far back as 2012, and was in the middle of a one-year suspension when the law society hearing panel issued its disbarment decision on Nov. 17.
The suspension, which had been set to expire in March, was for a number of issues, including the fact that Guo signed blank trust cheques, which allowed her bookkeeper to steal $7.5 million of client trust funds in 2016. Guo was also found to have replaced some of the stolen money by misappropriating trust funds from other clients.
The panel noted numerous other incidents in which Guo misappropriated or mishandled client trust funds, breached trust accounting rules, represented several clients at once with conflicting interests and provided legal services which she had a direct or indirect financial interest in. Guo also made misrepresentations or false presentations to clients and the Law Society, failed to supervise her staff and breached undertakings and orders made by the Law Society.
“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. She is quick to apologize and offer to improve but even with a reduced practice, no access to a trust account and the supervision of two experienced lawyers, she has failed to adhere to the PSA (Practice Supervision Agreement).”
In her own submissions, Guo testified that in the period examined by the panel (2012 to 2016) she had a difficult home situation and had taken on too many clients. She said she has since reduced her workload and taken courses in office management, accounting and money laundering.
Guo was called to the bar of Saskatchewan in 2000 and the bar of B.C. in 2009. In 2018, she ran for mayor of Richmond, where she claimed just over six per cent of votes.
Black Press Media has contacted Guo for comment. Her website, Guo Law Corporation, has been taken offline.