Law Society ruling details links between North Battleford lawyer and convicted fraudster Allan Moen
Law Society says Kevan Migneault ignored ‘red flags’ for a decade
A 40-year relationship between a North Battleford lawyer and an investment counsellor ended with one man in jail and the other professionally disgraced.
Allan Moen was sentenced to three years in prison in January, 2016 after pleading guilty to swindling rural Saskatchewan investors of more than $700,000.
At the same time, the Law Society of Saskatchewan suspended Kevan Migneault to assess where his law firm fit into the fraud.
The society came out with its decision in June. Its prosecutor recommended that Migneault be disbarred.
"The Member's blind faith in Moen and his enterprises and his blatant disregard for the rules surrounding trust accounts calls into question his ability to practice," the hearing committee wrote in the June penalty ruling.
The Law Society investigation determined that Migneault did almost everything it doesn't want its members to do.
Migneault failed to exercise due diligence; he allowed Moen to use the status of his law firm to help Moen lure investors; he invested in Moen's ventures when there was a cease trade order; he kept sloppy legal office records; breached trust account rules; he loaned money to clients and then lied to the Law Society about the loans.
The Law Society handed Migneault a two-year suspension and ordered he take a course on ethical issues and law office management.
The society's investigation began when RCMP contacted the group. Officers seized files from Migneault's office as part of the Moen fraud investigation.
"He wore ill-fitting clothes and needed dental work. He drove broken down vehicles and often travelled between cities by bus."- Law Society of Saskatchewan
"In the context of the search by the RCMP, it soon became apparent to the Law Society that the Member's law firm had deep ties with Moen and that large amounts of funds from investors in Moen's schemes flowed through the Member's firm," said an excerpt from an agreed statement of facts.
Moen effectively used the law firm as a bank.
"Banks typically hold back funds relating to third party cheques for several days, while law firm trust account cheques can allow for the immediate release of funds by the bank," the statement said.
The Law Society decision paints an unflattering portrait of Migneault. It describes him, at various points, as "unwitting" and engaging in "negligence" and "failure to exercise due diligence."
As for the red flags, it ruled that Migneault ignored Moen's appearance, manner of doing business and track record of failed investments.
"Moen was not typical of an individual raising capital for significant ventures," the decision said.
"The Member recalls Moen appearing dishevelled and unkempt. He wore ill-fitting clothes and needed dental work. He drove broken down vehicles and often travelled between cities by bus."
Migneault's suspension ends Dec. 31.
- A previous version of this story stated The Law Society of Saskatchewan described Kevan Migneault as a "mere dupe." In fact, Migneault described himself as a "mere dupe." The Law Society of Saskatchewan did not accept this characterization.Jul 14, 2017 11:43 AM CT