British Columbia

B.C. real estate lawyer who dodged $400K in taxes loses licence for a decade

Baldev Singh Ghag pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion earlier this year, after investigators discovered that he'd failed to report more than $1.28 million in income between 2005 and 2008.
Baldev Singh Ghag failed to report more than $1.28 million in income between 2005 and 2008. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

A Surrey lawyer who admitted to evading more than $400,000 in income tax in just four years has lost his licence to practise law for the next 10 years.

Baldev Singh Ghag pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion earlier this year, after investigators discovered that he'd failed to report more than $1.28 million in income between 2005 and 2008.

He received a 22-month conditional sentence, including eight months of house arrest and was ordered to pay back all of the $418,866 in federal income taxes that he'd dodged.

Now, Ghag has also admitted to committing professional misconduct and has resigned his membership in the Law Society of B.C. until 2029, promising he will not apply to practise anywhere else in the country.

The details of Ghag's agreement with the law society are laid out in a document posted online last week.

It contains snippets from his sentencing in January, when a provincial court judge made it clear there were numerous aggravating factors that merit a harsher sentencing.

"It was a repetitive and ongoing crime; every year the crime was repeated for years," Judge Paul Meyers said in his reasons for sentence.

"You are a lawyer yourself. You should know better."

Ghag intentionally hid business income

Ghag practised as a real estate lawyer and was the sole shareholder of both Baldev S. Ghag Law Corporation and Ferengi Trading Corporation, which mainly lent money for real estate transactions, according to the law society.

The Canada Revenue Agency started an audit into his bookkeeping after tax officials learned that Ferengi had not reported the interest payments it received in the 2006 tax year. That was soon expanded to include Ghag's personal tax records and the records of his law corporation over four tax years.

The law society learned about the investigation in 2015, and launched a probe of its own.

According to the undertaking posted online, Ghag intermingled his personal and corporate bank accounts so there was no real separation.

He admitted in interviews with the law society that he'd done that intentionally to hide the amount of income to his businesses.

Ghag was called to the bar in 1985. As a result of his misconduct, he will have to advise the law society if he applies to become a lawyer in any other part of the world.