Surinder Randhawa punished again by law society for 'shameful' actions to keep licence
Calgary lawyer also disciplined for brandishing axe, getting into a fistfight with rival barrister
Calgary lawyer Surinder Randhawa has once again been disciplined by the Law Society of Alberta (LSA) but will be able to keep his licence.
He was reprimanded for being involved in a fistfight with another lawyer. He also entered the rival barrister's office on different occasions armed with a rock and an axe in his hand.
Randhawa additionally pleaded guilty to three citations: failing to properly supervise staff, failing to serve clients and failing to follow the LSA's accounting rules.
LSA chair Rose Carter said in a report, which was issued to the public recently after a fall hearing into the matter, that Randhawa's actions were "shameful" and he "brought disgrace upon the LSA and the community he served."
He is suspended from practising law in Alberta for 14 months and must pay the cost of the hearing, which is estimated to be about $80,000.
The decision has to do with Randhawa's role in several real estate transactions.
Randhawa did not return messages from CBC seeking comment.
Documents, signatures falsified
The LSA says bank documents were falsified, signatures were copied, a cheque was altered and a bank was not properly notified that the lawyer was assisting both the buyer and seller of a house.
According to the hearing report, Randhawa acknowledged guilt and that he "failed to provide informed, independent and competent advice." He admitted to be deserving of sanction.
An investigation into Randhawa was launched after complaints from one of his clients, a man referred to in documents as K.S.
Their relationship started in 2003 when K.S. got Randhawa to transfer the title of his deceased mother's home to him and his brother.
K.S. employed Randhawa again in 2006 for a passport application and testified that he provided his driver's licence and his social insurance card. He also provided a letter of employment from his employer in 2003 when he was considering a new mortgage.
In 2003, Randhawa provided legal services in a real estate transaction. A property was sold by a numbered company and purchased by K.S. and two others. A handwriting expert testified that, in his opinion, K.S. and other clients' signatures were copied and pasted from other documents. A high ratio mortgage was used on the property.
Randhawa was also involved in selling a separate home several times. In 2006, Randhawa helped a numbered company purchase a home for $137,000. The property was then sold seven months later to KS for $218,000. A transfer of land was then registered at land titles with K.S.'s signature.
Client contacted police in alleged fraud
Again a handwriting expert testified that the signature was copied and pasted from other documents. K.S. never lived in the house.
The same house was sold a third time in February 2007 for $219,000. While K.S. no longer owned the house, he remained liable for the high ratio mortgage.
K.S. testified he had no knowledge of Randhawa acting on his behalf for the buying or selling of the property.
He only learned about it when he went to the bank to try and help his sister secure a mortgage. That's when K.S. was told he owned a house that he did not know about, so he called police claiming he was a fraud victim.
CBC News contacted K.S., but he did not want to comment because there are criminal proceedings against Randhawa. The lawyer and a co-accused are each facing fraud charges. A 12-day trial is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2016.
The Randhawa Law Office is still operating in Calgary with Randhawa's daughter Nancy running the firm.
Randhawa has practiced law in Alberta since 1989, but has been disciplined multiple times over the last two decades.
He was suspended in 2005 for 30 days for using his position to take unfair advantage of a vendor and was suspended for two years in 1996 for being the driver in a hit-and-run case and later falsifying documents.
"An entire profession should not be judged on one individual's actions," said Jeff Kahane with Kahane Law Office, one of Calgary's largest real estate law firms. "You get plumbers, electricians, mechanics and doctors who do not represent as well as they should."
- An earlier edition of this story did not specify that Surinder Randhaw is facing criminal charges. A search by a court clerk did not initially find anything, but fraud charges that will be in court in 2016 were discovered at a later date.Jan 15, 2015 4:27 PM MT