Brampton, Ont. lawyer Charles Amissah-Ocran has had his licence suspended on an interlocutory basis until the completion of a law society investigation into his real estate practice.
The Law Society of Upper Canada is investigating seven complaints about 14 suspect mortgage transactions at his office. Amissah-Ocran blames one of his real estate employees, Claire Graham, for tricking him into involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme. The law society had earlier warned Amissah-Ocran to stop using Graham for real estate services after her involvement in fraudulent mortgage transactions that resulted in another lawyer’s disbarment.
Ocran stopped using Graham for new mortgage files, but continued to employ her for litigation support, and to “clean up” old mortgage files she had previously been involved in, without informing the law society.
“The decision by the lawyer, which he describes as foolish, is more appropriately described as reckless,” wrote Mark Sandler on behalf of the three-person discipline panel.
Ocran had offered to voluntarily restrict his practice to civil litigation, family law, and criminal defence, but the panel was not convinced by that offer.
“Deep concerns about the lawyer’s involvement in extensive fraudulent activities, his continuing relationship with Graham and her associates, and his candour with the society are raised by his evidence and are not addressed through restrictions on his practice,” the panel wrote.
Peel Police Detective Bob Lusty, who deals with mortgage fraud investigations, says Ocran has made a complaint to them, and it is the subject of an open investigation. However, no arrests have been made.
“We have received allegations of criminal behaviour and the investigation is ongoing,” says Lusty. “I can’t say much more than that.”