Sunday, July 16, 2017

Complaint Accuses Canadian Lawyer With Fleecing 10 Clients Out Of Over $700K, Then Abandoning Them; Bar Announces That Every Lawyer Practicing Within Jurisdiction May Have To Fork Over Up To $400 Each To Cover Losses From Their Allegedly Thieving Colleague's Handiwork

In Fredericton, New Brunswick, CBC News reports:
  • Former Deputy Minister of Justice Yassin Choukri "abandoned his clients" and Fredericton law practice last September — two days after bouncing a pair of cheques to people he was representing in a mortgage foreclosure, the Law Society of New Brunswick disclosed Friday [July 7].

    In a six-page "notice of complaint," detailing accusations of theft or "misappropriation" from 10 clients between 2010 and 2016, the society formerly charged Choukri with a number of professional offences involving more than $740,000 in client money.(1)

    The society said Choukri, once one the most senior legal officials in the New Brunswick government, is required to respond to the accusations against him within 20 days.

    "If Yassin Choukri, Q.C. fails to file a reply Yassin Choukri Q.C. shall be deemed to admit all the charges," reads the notice.
    "On or about September 29, 2016, Yassin Choukri, Q.C. abandoned his clients and his practice as he left New Brunswick without advising his law associates, his clients or his family of his departure," said the document.

    Gambling issues

    In total, the accusations list $742,795.88 in payments that are now missing, although Choukri would have been entitled to a small amount of that as his fee for working on the various cases.

    The complaint mentions nothing about accusations Choukri had a gambling problem, but last year in an affidavit filed in court during the fallout from Choukri's abandonment of his practice, law society official Shirley MacLean said William Stephenson, who practised law in the same firm as Choukri, told her that was an issue.

    "Mr. Stephenson also informed me that Yassin Choukri regularly gambles and that Yassin Choukri informed him that he receives complimentary rooms and meals at Casino Moncton," the affidavit said.
    In May, the law society announced that every practising lawyer in New Brunswick may have to pay up to $400 each to reimburse Choukri's clients.
For the story, see Former deputy justice minister accused of stealing over $740,000 from law clients (Yassin Choukri accused of misappropriating money from 10 clients between 2010 and 2016).
(1) As the governing body of lawyers in New Brunswick, Canada, the Law Society has established a Compensation Fund which may reimburse a client for a financial loss when the loss happened due to the fraud or dishonesty of a lawyer during an attorney-client relationship. This fund is provided through a fee paid by practicing lawyers as part of their Law Society dues.

For "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the losses created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in the United States and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.