Ontario lawyer, John Findlay, stole almost $2 million dollars from his clients, but decided not to show up for the Law Society hearing to determine the circumstances and his punishment. Somehow, I am not surprised…
Findlay was called to the bar almost 40 years ago, in 1980, and practised civil litigation. Also not surprising, was that he was disbarred for two years in the early 2000’s for misappropriating client monies.
Findlay acted in a class action suit on behalf of property owners and businesses in Caledonia, Ontario, against several parties including the Ontario Provincial Police and the Government of Ontario. The law suit was settled for $20 million dollars, which Findlay was charged to distribute to the successful litigants. He was also ordered to retain $1.5 million dollars in trust, which eventually grew to $2 million dollars, to be held for two years.
Findlay held the funds in a GIC, but began stealing from this fund in a systematic way between March of 2012 and October of 2014, all the while deceiving the beneficiaries of the fund and the Court to believe the fund was intact. Apparently he hoped that the fund would generate sufficient interest allow him to pay back the fund the monies he had used.
Ontario’s Lawyer Compensation Fund received claims from 195 claimants in respect of the missing funds, totalling approximately $1.8 million.
On several occasions Mr. Findlay advised authorities that the funds were held in an interest-bearing trust account, reports that were false.
John Findlay was disbarred and ordered to pay the Compensation Fund approximately $1.750 million and costs of $51,500. The Law Society tribunal did not indicate whether Findlay
has funds to repay the trust funds.
Sadly, the Law Society tribunal noted that the litigants in the class action had previously suffered damages and economic loss. Findlay’s deceit and this fiasco will certainly not increase their confidence in the administration of justice.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang