B.C. lawyer Hong Guo is facing up to 40 days in jail for contempt of a court order.
According to a court order dated Oct. 14, the Richmond business and real estate lawyer, who also has an office in Beijing, has been found in contempt of previous orders made to her on April 8, 2021 and May 3, 2022.
Guo is scheduled to appear in B.C. Supreme Court Friday before Justice Gary P. Weatherill, where she will be provided the opportunity to finally comply with the orders, at which point the “court will consider modifying the period of Ms. Guo’s incarceration.”
The contempt order was sought in a court application on Sept. 16 by Kai Ming Yu and Qing Yan, who sued Guo over a real estate transaction.
Development deal had ‘irregularities’
Yu and Yan, the plaintiffs, entered into a $20-million joint venture with Zhongping Xu, Xiaohong Liu and their company Canada Sparkle Holdings Ltd.
Together they formed Vancouver Soho Holding Ltd. to buy a $37-million residential development project on Minoru Boulevard in Richmond, in 2013.
To get the deal done, Yu and Yan loaned Canada Sparkle $4 million by pledging their real estate in China as security for a loan from private lenders.
A re-sale occurred in 2018, netting $28.8 million for all the parties. However, since Guo had represented both parties and there was a dispute about how the money was to be divided, $6.5 million remained in a trust account.
The matter was further complicated after Guo set up a numbered company and accepted shares of the venture on behalf of Yu and Yan, based on the private loan. She then refused to transfer the shares back to Yu and Yan, at one point.
The plaintiffs thereafter hired a forensic accountant named Stephen Graff, who discovered “numerous discoveries of accounting irregularities, as well as potential claims and damages issues related to Ms. Guo,” according to court filings.
Guo failed to produce court-ordered documents
The plaintiffs had demanded in their application (and several others prior to this one) that Guo produce bank statements, deposit slips and trust ledgers showing the underlying records of the purchase of the Minoru properties, including documents from the Bank of China, HSBC and a local currency exchange. And the judge made such orders.
Prior to the most recent orders, Guo, according to their application, had already shown a history of non-compliance.
“She has made little or no attempt to understand and comply with the numerus court orders made against her,” noted the application.
Furthermore, Guo is said to have disclosed in an examination she loaned $500,000 for the purchase of the properties, which had previously not been disclosed since, as Guo put it, ‘You didn’t ask.’”
Glen Forrester, the lawyer for Yu and Yan, contended “there is no air of reality to her bald statements that she does not have documents such as bank statements that she is required as a British Columbian lawyer to possess.”
Forrester contended in the application that only jail would deter further contempt of court on Guo’s part.
Guo, a University of Windsor law graduate and former legal specialist for the state council of the People’s Republic of China, did not reply to Glacier Media by telephone Tuesday regarding her upcoming appearance.
Guo faces disbarment
Guo presently has eight citations against her before the Law Society of BC; fresh off a one-month suspension this year, she also faces a one-year suspension that is being challenged by the society’s executive team, which wants her disbarred.
The Law Society of BC recently found Guo committed professional misconduct by failing to provide competent legal services and engaging in conflicts of interests with her clients, following a complex investigation that she did not fully cooperate with.
Guo previously engaged in high-profile public events
Analysis from the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C. showed Guo as representing Paul King Jin in real estate transactions. Jin is being pursued by the B.C. director of civil forfeiture for assets alleged to be proceeds of crime.
In a separate matter, Guo faces a one-year suspension for the loss of $7.5 million from her trust account, she deemed to be stolen by her bookkeeper. The society has appealed the decision by panellists Jennifer Chow QC, Ralston Alexander QC and John Lane, public representative.
Guo ran for mayor of Richmond in October 2018, claiming the city needed to reduce crime rates and improve traffic while also promoting more cultural ties and trade with China. She received 5% of the vote.
During her campaign she reportedly denied China has a record of human-rights violations. In 2019, she spoke out against the Canadian government’s detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.
Last year Guo helped organize anti-Asian racism rallies in Vancouver via the Asian Canadian Equity Alliance.