Misappropriation of client trust funds leads to 15-year suspension for B.C. lawyer

·3 min read
Amanda Jane Rose admitted to several instances of misappropriation of client trust fund money, in amounts as large as $67,718. (Shutterstock - image credit)
Amanda Jane Rose admitted to several instances of misappropriation of client trust fund money, in amounts as large as $67,718. (Shutterstock - image credit)

A former B.C. lawyer who misappropriated more than $145,000 from trust funds, double-billed clients and advertised her services while she was suspended will not be able to practise law anywhere in Canada for the next 15 years.

Amanda Jane Rose has admitted to several instances of professional misconduct, including transferring client trust funds to a personal account, using trust funds to cover her operating expenses and misleading investigators, according to a recent undertaking with the Law Society of B.C.

Law society spokesperson Jason Kuzminski told CBC News that Rose's actions fall on the more serious end of the misconduct spectrum.

"This is effectively the same as a disbarment," he said of the penalty. "By getting this result we've protected the public interest."

If Rose decides she wants to practise again, she'll have to go through the entire process of getting credentialed with the law society again, Kuzminski explained.

Rose could not be reached for comment.

Rose practised at three small firms in New Westminster beginning in 2011, and faced at least three administrative suspensions during that time for issues with filing trust reports and completing required professional development credits, the law society said.

'Numerous' misappropriations

The undertaking lays out a raft of findings about Rose's misconduct that were uncovered beginning with a compliance audit in 2017 that turned into a forensic investigation of her bookkeeping dating back three years.

The investigation turned up evidence that she had misappropriated trust funds on "numerous occasions," according to a news release from the law society, with amounts as high as $67,718.

That largest example of misappropriation involved a trust account that Rose did not disclose to the law society. She disbursed the money in a variety of ways, including covering overdrafts in her general account, transferring to a personal account and a GST account with the Canada Revenue Agency, and sending money to her former partner's mother.

In another example cited by the law society, Rose made 17 separate withdrawals from a pooled trust account for amounts totalling $48,697.

Some of that cash was used to cover invoices that clients had already paid, thereby double billing them for her services, while other portions were transferred to her general account or a personal account, and some was used to pay her employees.

The undertaking also includes details of another $28,941 in misappropriated trust funds connected to three clients.

In 2017, while the investigation was underway, Rose signed an agreement with the law society not to use or open any trust accounts without approval of a supervisor. Despite that agreement, she opened an account without the knowledge of the supervisor and began using it, according to the undertaking.

In 2019, after Rose agreed not to practise law, the law society identified three websites where she was still holding herself out as a lawyer.

The undertaking says she also made false or misleading statements to the law society about her trust accounts on a number of occasions between 2016 and 2019.

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