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B.C. octogenarian lawyer disbarred for facilitating 'suspicious' real estate deals

Lobomir Ihor Huculak
Lobomir Ihor Huculak
Image Credit: FACEBOOK: Consulat Général de France à Vancouver

An octogenarian lawyer has been disbarred and is on the hook for $10,000 after he facilitated real estate deals "despite overwhelming objectively suspicious circumstances."

The B.C. Law Society says that one of the clients was a convicted drug trafficker.

According to a Feb. 27 Law Society of B.C. decision, Lobomir Ihor Huculak was found to have committed professional misconduct relating to 15 real estate transactions that took place between 2011 and 2015.

The Law Society said Huculak failed to make reasonable inquiries about his clients despite the suspicious circumstances.

"As a result, (Huculak) failed as a lawyer to be on guard against becoming a tool or dupe of an unscrupulous client," the Law Society says.

Huculak is also the Honorary Consul to Ukraine, a position he's held since 2006.

He argued losing his licence to practice law meant he would not be able to assist pro bono the Ukrainian community in B.C. He said Ukrainians coming to Canada to escape the war will be significantly inconvenienced if he is disbarred and he was the only person in B.C. who could do such a job.

However, the Law Society dismissed his claim saying he'd provided no evidence to justify his statement.

The Law Society found that while there was no proof of actual fraud or money laundering, his inaction on the files still amounted to professional misconduct.

While the decision doesn't name the convicted drug trafficker, an earlier Law Society ruling refers to him as M.K. and references a Vancouver Sun story. The Vancouver Sun reported Michael Krapchan was sentenced to jail for cocaine trafficking in a plot that involved former Canadian Olympic snowboarder Ryan Wedding.

READ MORE: B.C. lawyer that accepted $45,000 in $20 bills gets suspended

Huculak, who began practicing law in 1963, was also found to have misappropriated $4,711.

The Law Society says his misappropriation of the money cannot be "underestimated."

The misappropriated cash arose from a real estate transaction and an accounting error that left a cheque $4,711 short.

The decision says in 2013 he created a false invoice for the misappropriated cash and transferred it from his trust account to his general account.

READ MORE: B.C. lawyer that accepted $45,000 in $20 bills gets suspended

In his defence, he says he paid the money back.

However, the Law Society points out it only found out about the missing funds when it began investigating and he had it for more than seven years.

The decision says in cross-examination he admitted that "Yes, I knew all along I wasn’t entitled to those funds."

The Law Society says that throughout the investigation Huculak had a "defiant and dismissive attitude" toward the allegations and the suggestion that he had committed professional misconduct.

It also says he does not have insight into his conduct.

Huculak argued he was in his 80s and should be suspended for a month and not have to pay the $20,000 in costs.

However, the Law Society disagree and disbarred him, although it did drop the fees to $10,000.

READ MORE: Special prosecutor decides against charges in B.C. money laundering investigation

"(The Law Society) concludes that there was the potential for far-ranging risks to British Columbia society created by the inaction of (Huculak), the decision reads.

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