A Brampton lawyer is in hot water with regulators after it was discovered he “ought to have known” he was depositing fraudulent cheques from a money lender.
Pathik Bipinchandra Baxi, a Brampton-based lawyer who has been practicing since 2004, was formally suspended on Oct. 5 by the Law Society of Upper Canada and found to have committed professional misconduct.
Baxi was acting as attorney for a client who was engaged in a loan with a money lender who gave him fraudulent cheques.
“(Baxi) ought to have known that he was being used,”says the Tribunal ruling, which also indicated Baxi deposited nearly $1 million into his trust account and then disbursed the money to the benefit of his client, the lender, and possibly third parties as well.
In its decision, published earlier Oct. 5, the Tribunal indicates Baxi “facilitate(d) dishonesty, thereby resulting in an overdraft in his trust account of $998,000, more or less...”
Effective Nov. 5 2017 to March 20 2018, Baxi will be unable to practice law. Specifically, he was found to be non-compliant and in violation of LSUC Rule 2.02(5.01) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
According to the website of Simmons da Silva LLP, a Brampton-based law firm with a partner bearing the same name, Baxi “prides himself on achieving desired legal outcomes within set timelines and facilitating cost-effective resolutions.”
But according to the Tribunal, Baxi will have to pay a $15,000 fine to the law society within 18 months after his suspension is lifted. And if he doesn’t pay by deadline, interest of 2 per cent will accrue each year until his debts to the society are settled.
Peel Regional Police Sgt. for public information, Joshua Colley, confirmed to uLaw that Baxi is not facing criminal charges.
According to a company profile, Baxi is known as a skilled litigator, a lead counsel to numerous not for profit and religious organizations, and also an avid volunteer and member of his local community.
When it comes to accountability among lawyers in Ontario, disbursements in practitioner's trust accounts are monitored closely by law society auditors on a regular basis to prevent firms from making bookkeeping mistakes. Additionally, Law Societies across Canada are also tasked to ensure ethical behaviour, honesty, and integrity of their members; so as not to bring the profession into ill-repute among the public, who already consistently rank lawyers among the least trusted professions.
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