Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

 

Citation issued: November 26, 2020

Ronald Norman Pelletier

Citations are authorized by the Law Society of BC's Discipline Committee and list allegations against a lawyer that will be considered at a discipline hearing. Please note that allegations in a citation are unproven until a discipline hearing panel has determined their validity.

Nature of conduct to be inquired into:

1.  Between approximately September 2014 and May 2018, you engaged in activities that assisted in or encouraged dishonesty, crime or fraud, contrary to one or both of rules 3.2-7 and 3.2-8 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. In particular, you used or permitted the use of your firm’s trust accounts to receive or disburse, or both, some or all of approximately $24,092,710.37 CAD and $5,360,839.11 USD, on behalf of one or more of your clients WW, NW, KM, A Corp., S Ltd. and V Inc., when you knew that one or both of WW and KM were being investigated for securities fraud by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and that some or all of the funds received or disbursed were proceeds of that securities fraud.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

2.  In the alternative to allegation 1, between approximately September 2014 and May 2018, on behalf of one or more of your clients WW, NW, KM, A Corp., S Ltd. and V Inc., you used or permitted the use of your firm’s trust accounts to receive or disburse, or both, some or all of approximately $24,092,710.37 CAD and $5,360,839.11 USD, (the “Transactions”), and failed to do one or more of the following in connection with the Transactions:

(a)  provide any substantial legal services;

(b)  make reasonable inquiries about the circumstances, including, but not limited to:

(i)  the subject matter and objectives of your retainer;

(ii)  the source of the funds;

(iii)  the purpose of the payment of the funds; or

(iv)  the reason for the payment of the funds to or through your firm’s trust accounts; and

(c)  make a record of the results of any inquiries about the circumstances.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

3.  Between approximately May 2015 and January 2018, you engaged in activities that assisted in or encouraged dishonesty, crime or fraud, contrary to one or both of rules 3.2-7 and 3.2-8 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. In particular, you used or permitted the use of your firm’s trust accounts to receive or disburse, or both, some or all of approximately $9,940.00 CAD and $837,685.28 USD, on behalf of your client BW, when you knew that your client was the subject of a criminal indictment in the United States Eastern District of New York for securities fraud, tax evasion and money laundering, and that some or all of the funds received or disbursed were proceeds of those activities.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

4.  In the alternative to allegation 3, between approximately May 2015 and January 2018, on behalf of your client BW, you used or permitted the use of your firm’s trust accounts to receive or disburse, or both, some or all of approximately $9,940.00 CAD and $837,685.28 USD (the “Transactions”), and failed to do one or more of the following in connection with the Transactions:

(a)  provide any substantial legal services;

(b)  make reasonable inquiries about the circumstances, including, but not limited to:

(i)  the subject matter and objectives of your retainer;

(ii)  the source of the funds;

(iii)  the purpose of the payment of the funds; or

(iv)  the reason for the payment of the funds to or through your firm’s trust accounts; and

(c)  make a record of the results of any inquiries about the circumstances.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

5.  Between approximately September 2014 and May 2018, you failed to obtain, record, and verify client identification information, contrary to one or more of Rules 3-100, 3-102, 3-103, 3-104, 3-105, and 3-106 [Rules 3-93, 3-95, 3-96, 3-97, 3-98 and 3-99 prior to July 1, 2015] of the Law Society Rules in connection with one or more of your clients WW, NW, KM, BW, A Corp., S Ltd. and V Inc.This conduct constitutes professional misconduct or a breach of the Act or rules, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

6.  You improperly withdrew trust funds, contrary to one or more of Rules 3-64, 3-64.1, 3-65, 3-66, 3-67, 3-68 and 3-71 [Rules 3-56, 3-57, 3-58, 3-59, 3-60 and 3-62 prior to July 1, 2015] of Law Society Rules and your fiduciary duties, in one or more of the following instances:

(a)  on approximately August 31, 2015, you withdrew trust funds totaling $19,398.40 on behalf of your client SB, when you held no or insufficient funds on deposit to the credit of your client;

(b)  on approximately September 19, 2015 you transferred funds between client ledgers A Corp. - Corporate Matters (client matter [number]) and SB (client matter [number]) without proper records;

(c)  on approximately November 27, 2014 you withdrew trust funds totaling $4,035.33 in purported payment of disbursements that had already been paid; and

(d)  in one or more of six instances between approximately September 2014 and March 2015, you withdrew some or all of trust funds totaling $33,900 in purported payment of your fees and disbursements when you had not prepared or delivered a bill for your fees.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct or a breach of the Act or rules, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.