Richmond lawyer Hong Guo will be suspended from practising law for one year after a Law Society tribunal found her guilty of professional misconduct that wound up facilitating the theft of $7.5 million in clients' trust funds.
A law society tribunal hearing panel found Guo failed to supervise her employees, failed to comply with trust accounting rules and left blank signed trust cheques with her bookkeeper, which it said ultimately led to the thefts that occurred between January 2014 and October 2016.
The panel found she misappropriated clients' money to replace missing funds from other clients' accounts to complete real estate transactions.
Those impacted were eventually compensated by Guo and through an insurance policy.
Guo's misconduct allegations were being investigated at the time of her run for mayor of Richmond in 2018.
At the time, she defended herself on social media and blamed two former employees, including the bookkeeper, for stealing the money by forging her signature. Guo said she reported the theft to RCMP as soon as she found out about it.
Though the Law Society pushed for Guo to be disbarred, the panel ordered she be suspended for one year.
Guo currently has no access to a trust account and is working under the supervision of another lawyer until her suspension takes effect on Dec. 1.