Law Times

November 3, 2014

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Real estate lawyer in hot water over missing $3.5M by yamri Taddese Law Times T he Law Society of Upper Canada be- lieves a lawyer has left the country amid complaints from her clients about $3.5 million in missing mort- gage funds she was holding in her trust account. Mississauga, Ont., real estate lawyer Rita Gre- wal has abandoned her home and law practice, and her credit card activity suggests she may be in India, according to a law society ruling in which the regulator suspended her licence to practise law for fear she poses "a significant risk to the public." The regulator has received 11 complaints since the end of July from Grewal's clients alleg- ing she received mortgage funds earlier this year but hasn't yet paid them out. "By the end of July 2014, [Grewal's] home and her office had been vacated and her files have not been located," wrote hearing panel chairman David Wright in the recent decision on the law society's application for an interlocutory suspension. "Activity on her credit cards suggests that Ms. Grewal may have gone to India. Ms. Grewal has not responded to the law society's inquiries or to this proceeding and has not explained what happened to the money." Although $3.5 million is missing, Grewal's account only had $100,000 left in it when her bank froze it, according to Wright's ruling. The transactions in question related to Gre- wal's residential real estate practice, specifically purchase, sale, and mortgage refinancing trans- actions, according to law society spokesman Roy Thomas. "Based on the complaints, Ms. Grewal received, in trust, mortgage funds from insti- tutional lenders that she was instructed to use, among other things, to pay out existing mortgag- es on title but did not do so," said Thomas. So far, the law society is aware of eight RACE REPORT Non-white lawyers feel alienated p3 SPOUSAL SUPPORT Ruling clarifies use of guidelines in reviews p6 FOCUS ON Family Law p9 See Former, page 5 PM #40762529 $4.00 • Vol. 25, No. 35 November 3, 2014 L aw TIMes L aw TIMes A corporate lawyer's unique pro bono side job Hussein Hamdani helps police, families deal with radicalized youth by yamri Taddese Law Times H ussein Hamdani is a Hamilton, Ont., corporate and real estate law- yer but he also has what one might call a unique pro bono practice. When his phone rings, it could be from a corporate client but it could also be from parents afraid their son wants to join a ter- rorist group. In the summer, the parents of Mohamud Mohamed Mohamud reached out to Ham- dani to help them stop their son after track- ing his cellphone in Turkey. They suspected he was on his way to Syria where he'd join the Islamic State. "It was too late," says Hamdani, a lawyer at Simpson Wigle Law LLP. Police informed the family in September that Mohamud had likely died in Syria. Over the last 10 years, he says he has started seeing himself as "a translator, but not of language." Hamdani is one of the founding mem- bers of the federal government's cross-cul- tural roundtable on national security and he has connections to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. He's also an active part of the Muslim community in Hamilton. "I felt I had to be like a bridge between the two," he says. When troubled parents call, they often say, "We don't know what to do. We need your help here," says Hamdani. Not every matter is as serious as Mo- hamud's. Often, kids have gotten into trouble at school and are displaying trou- bling behavioural issues. "They ask me to sit down and talk to them," he says. He tells young people his own story of how he arrived in Canada as a refugee at the age of six after travelling first to Yemen from Uganda. He tells them about having to share a two-bedroom apartment with 18 of his relatives in St. Catharines, Ont. "Many of them are newcomers and I tell them, 'Look, I went from a refugee to be- coming a partner at one of the largest law firms in the region. If I can do it, you can do it,'" he says. "Sometimes, that's it. But sometimes, it's more serious when parents say, 'I think we need an intervention here that's deeper.' And in more dangerous case scenarios, [the kids] are tripping into criminal activity, ter- rorist activity." That's when he gets the RCMP and CSIS involved as he tries to work with them to stop people from going down the danger- ous path of destroying their own lives and harming others. Getting families to agree to the authori- ties' involvement is tough, says Hamdani, who asks parents in these situations whether or not they want their child to live. "Every parent, no matter where they come from or what religion they come from, if you ask them, 'Would you rather your son or daughter be alive or dead?' they say they want their children to be alive. "So then I say, 'Let's save them. And to save them, we need help.'" Hamdani says he's frank about the fact that if police intercept them, the youth could face jail time. In some cases, not making an arrest is the more fruitful option, he says. But deci- phering those cases from ones that need the See Warriors, page 5 While some people have called Hussein Hamdani a sellout for working with police, he says he has had lots of success in helping turn youth away from radicalism. Photo: Robin Kuniski Visit or call 1.800.387.5164 for a 30-day no-risk evaluation )BSECPVOEȕ1VCMJTIFE'FCSVBSZFBDIZFBS 0OTVCTDSJQUJPOȕ- 0OFUJNFQVSDIBTFȕ- .VMUJQMFDPQZEJTDPVOUTBWBJMBCMF 1SJDFTTVCKFDUUPDIBOHFXJUIPVUOPUJDF]UPBQQMJDBCMFUBYFTBOETIJQQJOHIBOEMJOH CANADIAN LAW LIST 2014 :063*/45"/5$0//&$5*0/50$"/"%"Ȏ4-&("-/&5803, ȕ BOVQUPEBUFBMQIBCFUJDBMMJTUJOH ȕ DPOUBDUJOGPSNBUJPO ȕ MFHBMBOEHPWFSONFOUDPOUBDUJOGPSNBUJPO .03&5)"/"1)0/�, CLLdir_LT_Oct6_14.indd 1 2014-09-30 9:25 AM e: Closed File Storage SAVE YOUR FIRM MONEY With Our Secure and Cost Effective, Easy to Access Closed File Scanning & Storage Solutions. Call Us, We Will Help You! ntitled-1 1 2014-10-21 8:13 AM DM Tools Cloud For details, visit Work anywhere, anytime, on any device. ntitled-5 1 2014-10-29 10:09 AM The Law Society of Upper Canada has received 11 complaints about lawyer Rita Grewal since July.

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