The B.C. Law Society on Tuesday fined a Penticton lawyer $15,000 after he admitted to five counts of professional misconduct.
Daniel K. Lo admitted his firm failed to remit sales taxes and employee payroll deductions to the provincial and federal governments; that he misled the B.C. Law Society about his financial affairs; and that he failed to properly confirm the identity of a client he represented in a real estate deal.
“This conduct was sustained over several years,” explains a written decision rendered Tuesday by a disciplinary panel of the law society.
“During this time, the respondent reported to the law society in his annual trust reports that remittances for the payroll source deductions had been made as required. As a separate matter, the respondent represented a client in a real estate matter without taking appropriate steps to verify her identity, despite having no face-to-face contact with her.”
The missing employee payroll deductions totalled about $160,000, while the sales taxes and penalties totalled about $90,000. All debts have since been paid in full, according to the decision.
Lo told the panel his business partner was responsible for the firm’s financial affairs, but the panel found Lo should have paid closer attention, “particularly at a time when there were red flags that the firm was falling behind in its financial obligations.”
As for the real estate deal, Lo represented a buyer, identified as P.R., who lived in another country. The buyer’s husband sent Lo notarized documents confirming P.R.’s identify, but the documents were lacking attached copies of identification and should have been sent directly from the foreign notary as required by provincial regulations, according to the panel.
The law society determined in the course of its investigation that the deal and the foreign notary were both legitimate. However, the panel noted, “proper identification of clients is necessary for the profession to protect against fraud, money laundering and other unlawful activities.”
Lo, who didn’t return a call for comment Tuesday, has until June 1 to pay the $15,000 fine, plus another $1,000 in costs.
After becoming a lawyer in 2005, Lo worked in Vancouver until 2012. He then relocated to the Okanagan in 2013 and now does business as Daniel K. Lo Mobile Legal and Notarial Service and TNG Legal Services, according to the decision.