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Former Liberal MP ‘chronically’ broke code of conduct over B.C. law firm: commissioner

Liberal MP for Steveston-Richmond Joe Peschisolido speaks during question period. Jan. 25, 2016. YouTube/screenshot

Canada’s ethics watchdog says former BC. Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido, whose former law firm has been linked to an alleged Chinese organized crime figure, repeatedly broke the code of conduct for members of Parliament.

The probe was launched after a Global News investigation showed Peschisolido’s law firm helped facilitate a secretive B.C. real estate deal — known as a ‘bare trust’ deal — that helped alleged Chinese gangster and convicted drug trafficker Kwok Chung Tam hide his ownership stake in a $7.8 million condo development.

In his report issued Wednesday, ethics commissioner Mario Dion said the one-time member for Steveston-Richmond East “chronically” failed to disclose his private interests, as required by the code.

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But Peschisolido, who lost his re-election bid in the 2019 federal election, will not face any sanctions or punishment as a result of the report’s findings as he is no longer a member of Parliament, Dion notes.

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The code of conduct for MPs requires they file a full, confidential statement of their private interests to the ethics commissioner within 60 days of being elected, along with those of their family members.

Any material changes to those interests must also be disclosed within 60 days of the change.

READ MORE: Ethics commissioner investigating Liberal MP whose law firm was linked to alleged Chinese gangster

According to the report, Peschisolido failed to disclose a shareholder’s loan and a personal guarantee of debt, both worth “well in excess of $10,000.” He also did not disclose a change in his marital status or a change in the status of his law corporation.

“Given Mr. Peschisolido’s chronic failure to comply with the code’s disclosure requirements, there is no doubt in my mind I would have recommended that Parliament impose appropriate sanctions,” Dion writes.

Dion says Peschisolido told him focusing on his role as an MP had led him to neglect matters involving his law corporation, which in turn resulted in his failure to make full disclosures.

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“This prompts me to emphasize how meeting all obligations under the code, including those relating to disclosure, is in fact an integral part of a member’s role,” Dion writes, noting that disclosure “is essential to helping prevent conflicts between public and private interests.”

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The investigation was prompted by a request from the Conservatives to Dion’s office in August 2019.

In his letter to Conservative MP Peter Kent confirming the probe had been launched, Dion referred to the Global News investigation brought up in the request as reason to open the investigation, along with “Peschisolido’s written representations.”

READ MORE: Liberal whose B.C. law firm was tied to alleged Chinese gangster loses re-election bid

The financial transaction facilitated by Peschisolido’s law firm was struck while Tam was still serving a conditional sentence for drug trafficking that stemmed from a 2006 police raid on his Richmond home. The deal allowed Tam to hide his ownership stake in a Coquitlam condo development.

At the time Global News reported these claims, Peschisolido denied any knowledge of the bare trust deal involving Tam. He also said he did not know Tam and that he was not familiar with how bare trust deals worked.

Peschisolido also said lawyers at his firm operated as independent contractors and that he was not aware of their specific business transactions.

READ MORE: Richmond MP aims to distance himself from ‘money-laundering scheme’ court case

According to claims made by Canadian law enforcement officials between 1991 and 2014, Tam is a heroin importer, a chemical drug lab operator and a “known loan shark” with a history of violence.

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Although Tam has faced multiple weapons- and drug-related charges, he has only been convicted of theft under $1,000, for which he received a pardon, drug trafficking for his role in a marijuana grow operation and possession of narcotics.

Tam has denied any involvement in organized crime.

—With files from Sam Cooper, Brian Hill and the Canadian Press

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