The ol’ saying, “A lawyer is as dirty as a city’s sewer,” is also true in the money laundering case of Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen
. Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen
got herself a three month suspension from practicing law after she decided it was a really good idea to play “Boo Boo the Fool” as she hid $11,224,453.95 ($9,949,688.99 U.S. dollars and $1,274,764.96 in Canadian dollars) of one of her firm’s international client’s money.
The way the story goes is that Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen used her power as the Signatory on a trust account in order to deposit her client’s money into the trust account.
Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen and the client were using the trust account as a placeholder for money that the client wanted moved to banks in countries that included Panama and Singapore.
Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen
is a real estate lawyer. And if y’all know anything about Vancouver real estate, then y’all know it’s as shady as Miami real estate in the 80s. Former Minister of Finance of British Columbia Carole James
describe the dirty dealings that go on in Vancouver real estate like “the Wild West with rampant speculation and out-of-control prices.”
Needless to say, all the antennas go up in the legal community whenever somebody says lawyer, real estate, and international client because hearing those three words are like hearing somebody say pimp, prostitute, and john. You know something is wrong.
The Law Society of British Columbia
knew wrong was going on with 52-year-old Florence Esther Louis Yen after it was brought to their attention that the lawyer spent a little under three months shy of two years (May 20, 2015-February 23, 2017) depositing $11,224,453.95 into a trust account and then turning around and withdrawing the same total amount of $11,224,453.95 out of the trust account that she had just deposited the total amount in.
The source of the $11,224,453.95
included the client’s businesses, personal accounts, and the client’s uncle. The client’s uncle does the bulk of his business in China where greasy palms get a person legal tender that sounds like wind blowing and not bells tolling.
Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen didn’t pay any of that any never mind, though. She just did what her client told her to do which was to send the money out
to other law firms that the client had dealings with, properties the client purchased in Chilliwack and Vancouver, and the client’s personal accounts.
The folks over at the Law Society of British Columbia make it very clear that the job of a lawyer is to counsel clients on the law and not to advise the client on the best ways to spend his or her money.
The latter part, there, about how best to spend one’s money is something that a banker, a stock broker, or a financial advisors does, not a lawyer.
For some reason or another, though, Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen thought it was a good idea to be her client’s banker. She helped her client to move his or her money
from Panama, Singapore, and a Singapore bank located in Luxembourg. Out of the $11,224,453.95
that was moved into the trust account, approximately $1,500,000 in U.S. dollars was clean.
Anybody with a lick of sense knows that moving money, let alone $11,224,453.95, from one bank to another is a bad look in and of itself; and that a person just worsens the situation whenever he or she helps a client to move the money to a place like Panama, which has the not so good distinction of being the America’s “Switzerland for rich folks.”
Heck, even the banks know it’s bad. It’s why the legit banks tell the government about all of that money moving around because they don’t want to lose their license to keep folks money in their banks.
Come to think of it, the Royal Bank
hit Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen’s assistant with a wave of questions about where all of that money was coming from and going to and why the law firm was receiving financial “gifts” that were financial “gifts” for the client’s family members.
And like any “good” lawyer, Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen put the blame off on her client. According to the Law Society of British Columbia Disciplinary Hearing Panel
, Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen told the folks over at the Royal Bank that her client told her that the money was dividend from stock holdings that the big time uncle has control over as the “registered agent and exclusive brand agent of China’s number one brand of rice wine and for the China National Tobacco Co.”
The Law Society of British Columbia Disciplinary Hearing Panel looked at all of that money moving around and were like, “not good.”
“There were enough red flags, however, as set out above, that should have alerted her to ask questions and record the answers to ensure that her trust account was not being used for nefarious purpose,” said the Law Society of British Columbia Disciplinary Hearing Panel
Initially, Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen admitted to nothing. She was like, “I’m innocent.” The Law Society of British Columbia Disciplinary Hearing Panel was like, “Ok, have it your way. We’ll just give you a six month suspension and a large fine.”
After realizing that the panel was serious about throwing the book at her, Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen
decided she better fess up and apologize for doing wrong.
The Law Society of British Columbia Disciplinary Hearing Panel
accepted Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen’s apology and told her that due to her playing dumb to the moving around of the $11,224,453.95 in U.S. and Canadian funds, they had no other choice but to take her license away for three months and to fine her $35,209.83.
The big hiccup here for Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen
, who was admitted to B.C’s bar in 1995, is that her first time being in trouble with the bar means big time trouble for her.
Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen’s admission to the Law Society of
British Columbia Disciplinary Hearing Panel that she played “hide the money”
with her client who, by the way, she continues to represent, makes it more
than likely that the prosecutor will look at that as a window to open up a
criminal investigation into Attorney Florence Esther Louis Yen’s decision to
hide $11,224,453.95 in U.S. and Canadian funds of her clients money in
Singapore and the America’s “Switzerland for the rich folks.”