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HomeBusinessEmbattled lawyer Hong Guo avoids jail, for now

Embattled lawyer Hong Guo avoids jail, for now

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Bob Mackin

A B.C. Supreme Court judge gave a Richmond real estate and immigration lawyer another chance to avoid jail for contempt of court. 

Justice Gordon Weatherill had threatened Oct. 14 to incarcerate Hong Guo for 40 days for failing to provide financial documents to a civil case in which she is a defendant. On Friday, Weatherill adjourned the case and stayed the contempt order to Nov. 7, so that he could hear from Guo and her lawyer, if she brings one to court. Guo said in court that she had contacted three lawyers without success — one in Kamloops, one occupied by a hearing underway and another who is on vacation.

Richmond 2018 Mayoral candidate Hong Guo

In May 2018, immigrant investors Qing Yan and his wife Kai Ming Yu sued Guo, Zhong Ping Xu, Xiao Hong Liu, 1032821 B.C. Ltd., Vancouver Soho Holding Ltd and Canada Sparkle Long Holdings Inc. for fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract relating to a collapsed $40 million real estate deal. 

Yu and Yan hired Guo in 2013 to assist their immigration application. Guo introduced them to Xu and Liu, the principals behind Canada Sparkle, and they entered a joint venture for the Vancouver Soho high-density commercial and residential project on Minoru and Lansdowne in Richmond. 

The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that Guo acted as lawyer for both Vancouver Soho and Canada Sparkle and took advantage of the plaintiffs’ poor English skills. 

Yu and Yan want Guo to disclose banking information, including about her law firm’s trust accounts. At one point, Weatherill asked Guo about not being the signing officer of those trust accounts. She explained that she has two supervisors because of theft by an ex-employee. The Law Society intervened in Guo’s practice after $7.5 million went missing in 2016, eventually leading a tribunal to find she committed professional misconduct. Guo said she complained to the Richmond RCMP about her former bookkeeper, but she said the Mounties took no action.

Justice Gordon Weatherill (LinkedIn)

Guo provided a binder of documents to the court a day earlier. But Weatherill and Glen Forrester, lawyer for Yu and Yan, agreed they were incomplete. Weatherill asked Guo what she had done over the last week to purge her contempt.

Said Guo: “You can read the affidavits, all the documents are in the affidavits.”

Weatherill said it took the prospect of jail for Guo to act at the last minute, but it still wasn’t good enough. While Forrester conceded that he recognized one document that was new, Weatherill said the 400 pages were poorly organized without tabs.

He called Guo’s submission “just a regurgitation of what you’ve already produced,” proceeded to chastise her for defying the court and challenged her to come prepared to the Nov. 7 hearing.

“You have told me in open court today that you have complied with all of the orders that have been made. So we’re going to test that and, if what you just told me isn’t true, then there will be consequences,” Weatherill said. 

The Law Society of B.C. website lists nine disciplinary actions against Guo, who faces potential disbarment. Guo, who also has a law office in Beijing, is a former lawyer in the State Council, the Chinese Communist Party government’s central cabinet office.

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