North Vancouver securities lawyer William (Bill) Lorne MacDonald, who chairs the Canucks Autism Network, is facing an administrative fraud investigation by the Law Society of BC.
MacDonald attempted to keep the probe from public scrutiny by applying to the society for an anonymization order; however, a society hearing panel ruled Jan. 30 there were no grounds to justify the application.
MacDonald is a prolific participant in Vancouver’s investment industry, working as a director or legal consultant of dozens of junior public companies since being called to the B.C. bar in 1999. The society states he has recently wound down his practice (at MacDonald Tuskey) and closed the firm’s physical office.
The society conducted an investigation of MacDonald’s books and is now alleging he “assisted in a fraudulent scheme to manipulate the securities market.”
With respect to three unnamed clients, MacDonald is alleged by the society to have made inaccurate representations to another lawyer and assisted in “facilitating dishonesty, crime or fraud in the use” of his trust accounts, including failing to make reasonable inquiries when he ought to have known his trust accounts were being used in a fraudulent scheme to manipulate the securities market.
MacDonald also stands accused of “failing to be on guard against becoming the tool or dupe of an unscrupulous client” while also “failing to provide substantial legal services” and not properly recording and verifying client identification information.
The full citation was initially anonymized in December 2022 but now shows MacDonald’s name. MacDonald is specifically cited for moving millions of dollars through trust accounts for clients suspected of criminal stock market manipulation.
A panel disagreed with MacDonald that publishing his citation with his name would have negative consequences for companies, as well as one charity, he is presently involved with.
The society said the companies and charity have an interest in knowing of the allegations. The society also noted MacDonald’s “role in the companies and the charity do not outweigh the public interest in publication.”
The society noted a more recent panel ruling against anonymization in the public interest — that of West Vancouver Mayor Mark Sager, who unsuccessfully argued against his citation being publicized on grounds it would impede his work as mayor and cause harm to the residents of that city.
“While I accept some potential exists that publication of the Respondent’s identity may have a negative effect on the reputation and finances of these companies and charity, I find it speculative to say that it is any more than a possibility,” noted the panel.
MacDonald is chair of the Canucks Autism Network, which has removed its board of directors web page as of Feb. 6. Neither the charity nor MacDonald’s office responded to Glacier Media’s request to comment on the allegations in time for publication.
The summary of allegations, which remain unproven by a panel, do not implicate the charity.
In 2019, MacDonald was suspended for two months after it was found he misappropriated trust funds totalling $1,977.