TORONTO – A lawyer charged with fraud and money laundering related to dealings he had with top executives of a police union is appealing his suspension.
In a notice to the Law Society appeal panel, Andrew McKay asks that findings made in November against him be set aside.
“The hearing panel erred in concluding that there was strong evidence of the lawyer’s involvement and active participation in a fraudulent scheme based only on untested hearsay allegations,” McKay says in the notice. “The appellant has no discipline history and enjoys a reputation for honesty and integrity.”
The panel suspended McKay’s licence last month pending outcome of the criminal proceedings against him, a process that could take years.
Following a 19-month investigation, the RCMP charged McKay and four others in June with fraud over $5,000 and laundering the proceeds of crime. While the criminal process unfolds, the courts ordered the Law Society of Upper Canada to put its disciplinary proceedings against him on hold.
McKay frequently represented police officers in criminal and discipline matters, including those with the Ontario Provincial Police. Three of his co-accused were former top executives with their union, and the fourth owned a travel business.
The allegations against them essentially are that they set up a travel agency and one of the police association brass ordered employees and outside lawyers to use its services — worth about $400,000 a year.
The other allegation turns on a consulting company they set up in 2014 — PIN Consulting Group — which was to be paid $5,000 a month by the police association for advice on travel, investment and real estate although it apparently provided no services. McKay, who the panel said had no professional experience or expertise in the investments, travel or consulting business, was its only employee.
“The alleged offences, if proven, would raise serious questions about the lawyer’s integrity and honesty,” the panel said in its decision. “There was a significant risk of harm to the public confidence in the administration of justice and in the legal profession if the lawyer was not suspended.”
While the panel found his professional record had been unblemished and acknowledged the hardships of a suspension, it said it had no choice but to protect the public interest.
McKay, who is in his mid-50s, was an officer with the Toronto police and became a detective constable before leaving for law school in 1987.
In his notice of appeal, he argues the suspension was unreasonable and that his family relies on his income from practising law.
He also argues that the panel made “adverse findings” against him because he didn’t testify at the hearing or make any apologies. He also takes issue with the finding that PIN “seems to have been created for the express purpose of diverting funds” from the Ontario Provincial Police Association.
McKay argues other “respected” lawyers would be able to supervise his practise to minimize any risk he might pose and maintain public confidence in the system.