Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Admission of Misconduct and Undertakings


BALDEV SINGH GHAG

Surrey, BC

Called to the Bar: August 1, 1985

Voluntary withdrawal of membership: November 8, 2019

Admission accepted: November 4, 2019

Counsel: Tara McPhail for the Law Society; Michael Klein, QC for Baldev Singh Ghag

FACTS

Baldev Singh Ghag practised almost exclusively in the area of real estate law in Surrey. He was the sole shareholder, president, secretary and director of Baldev S. Ghag Law Corporation, from which he conducted his law practice, and two other companies: Ferengi Trading Corporation and 6048255 BC Ltd. The majority of Ferengi Trading Corporation’s business included lending money to individuals and corporations concerning real estate transactions.

Both the law corporation and Ferengi Trading Corporation earned income that was not reported on their tax returns for 2005 to 2009. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) selected Ferengi for an audit for the 2006 taxation year as its interest payments were not reported. The audit was widened to include additional years and to encompass the law corporation and Ghag personally.

Ghag attempted to enter into an agreement with the CRA to file a voluntary disclosure of his unreported income for 2005 to 2008 and a T1 adjustment request for 2009 to have unreported income applied to his personal returns. The CRA rejected the application and prosecuted him for tax evasion.

The Law Society learned about the execution of CRA’s search warrants in April 2015. The Law Society obtained a copy of the Information to Obtain the Search Warrants in May 2015 and opened an investigation file in June 2015. From October 2015 to May 2017, the Law Society unsuccessfully attempted to obtain records seized by the CRA. The investigation was twice put into abeyance by the Discipline Committee — from August 24, 2017 to February 15, 2018 and from September 20, 2018 to January 17, 2019.

On January 26, 2018, he was charged with the willful evasion of or attempt to evade payment of taxes imposed by the Income Tax Act, by failing to report taxable income of $1,284,254.81 for taxation years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 and thus evading payment of $418,865.66 in federal income taxes.

On January 10, 2019, the Provincial Court of BC accepted Ghag’s guilty plea and found him guilty of tax evasion, as per the charge. The conviction means Ghag filed false tax returns, deliberately underreported his income and intentionally misrepresented the state of his business affairs to the CRA. He was sentenced to a fine of $418,865.66 (representing 100 per cent of the amount of federal income tax he was convicted of evading) and a conditional sentence order of 22 months.

ADMISSIONS AND UNDERTAKINGS

Ghag admitted he failed to report taxable income of $1,284,254.81 and evaded the payment of federal income taxes of $418,865.66, for which he was criminally convicted of an indictable offence on January 10, 2019. He admitted this constitutes professional misconduct.

The Discipline Committee accepted Ghag’s admission and his undertaking that, for a period of 10 years commencing on November 8, 2019, he will not:

  1. engage in the practice of law in British Columbia with or without the expectation of a fee, gain or reward, whether direct or indirect;
  2. apply for readmission to the Law Society or elsewhere in Canada;
  3. apply for membership in any other law society without first advising in writing the Law Society of BC; and
  4. permit his name to appear on the letterhead of, or work in any capacity whatsoever for, any lawyer or law firm in BC, without the prior written consent of the Law Society’s Discipline Committee.

Rule 4-29 Admission of Misconduct and Undertaking