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Ex-B.C. lawyer Hong Guo skips tribunal ahead of contempt of court sentencing

The former B.C. lawyer with a proven record of lying and misleading the Law Society of BC did not appear before a disciplinary panel for professional misconduct.
Hong Guo. (Photo by Richmond News)

Twice-disbarred Richmond lawyer Hong Guo did not appear before her Law Society of BC disciplinary hearing Thursday, prompting tribunal members to seek clarification as to her whereabouts and the reason for her absence.

The former legal specialist for the State Council of the People’s Republic of China — the executive branch of the National People’s Congress run by the Chinese Communist Party — is thought to be in Beijing under the care of her brother, society lawyer Saheli Sodhi told the tribunal.

The revelations come two weeks ahead of Guo's scheduled appearance before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gary P. Weatherill for a sentencing hearing after the judge found Guo in contempt of court on Oct. 14, 2022 for repeatedly failing to produce court-ordered documents in a civil proceeding against her and her firm.

Guo has not communicated with Sodhi since Dec. 30, 2023, when Guo advised Sodhi that she was under the care of her brother in China, Sodhi told tribunal chair Michael Welsh.

Sodhi said Guo had previously raised concerns about her mental health and provided a letter from a clinical counsellor that she had been admitted to Richmond Hospital prior to her departure to China, understood to be last September. However, Sodhi told Welsh they had no current information on her health.

And, “I’m not in a position to comment or be aware of what her current status is,” Sodhi told Welsh.

Sodhi argued for the hearing to proceed and noted Guo has already had other tribunal proceedings carry on without her presence.

However, Welsh ultimately announced an adjournment to June 10, in order to provide more time for Guo to respond to the tribunal. Additionally, Welsh ordered Guo to provide medical evidence for her inability to attend Thursday’s hearing.

A recent review board decision, dated May 6, states Guo appeared “on her own behalf” at a Feb. 8 hearing, although the circumstances are unclear.

That review board hearing was prompted by a society appeal that opposed a prior tribunal finding that Guo did not commit professional misconduct for lying to society investigators.

The review board overturned the decision and made findings of professional misconduct.

Guo’s “explanation for providing false and inaccurate answers is that she was overwhelmed with law society investigations and her use of language could have been better, and she was doing the best she could. The hearing panel accepted this explanation,” the review board explained.

“We find that [Guo’s] conduct in making the false and inaccurate representations to the law society investigator amounts to professional misconduct.”

The new finding of professional misconduct adds to numerous other such findings from eight of the nine citations against Guo.

In short, tribunals have found Guo misappropriated funds to complete business transactions, had conflicts of interest with clients, made misrepresentations to society investigators and was generally found to be "ungovernable."

“Guo’s discipline history is also replete with concerns about her practice and file management, competence and ability to cooperate with the law society,” the society noted in a Nov. 20 statement upon her first disbarment.

Last month, the society applied in court to take full custodianship of Guo law Corp., a once bustling practice specializing in real estate transactions and immigration-related business arrangements, such as the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program.

Guo’s practice has been under partial custodianship since Aug. 23, 2016; that's when Guo claimed her bookkeeper stole $7.5 million from her trust account using blank cheques she signed and left unsupervised in their possession, prompting a one-year suspension (Guo’s final citation hearing is for allegedly practicing law while suspended).

Guo was sole principal of Guo Law Corp. and had a satellite office in Beijing. She was called to the bar in 1999 in Ontario and moved to Saskatchewan in 2000 where she practiced with a Saskatchewan firm until moving to B.C. in 2005.

Although Guo has been disbarred twice, in addition to two suspensions, the society continues to pursue the completion of five other citations.

A separate tribunal recently explained it pursues former members “to assure the public and the profession that the consequences of misconduct cannot be avoided simply by resigning from the law society. It also provides a record in the event that a member applies to renew their membership or to practise law in another jurisdiction.”

Disciplinary hearings typically result in monetary judgments. Guo already owes the society over $108,000 for costs related to her four completed hearings.

Glacier Media was also unable to reach Guo by phone and email.

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