Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell's office recently put a lawyer facing a professional disciplinary hearing forward as a candidate for the police board. Randeep Singh Sarai told the Straight on December 23 that the mayor's office asked him if he would be interested in joining the board. Sarai said the mayor's office contacted him because of his background in crime prevention in the Indo-Canadian community.
"I never lobbied for it and never asked for it," Sarai said.
On November 16, the Law Society of British Columbia amended a citation against Sarai--which it first issued in July 2003--alleging that he breached trust-accounting provisions by failing to report trust shortages and failing to remit collected social-service and goods-and-services taxes. In addition, the law society has alleged that Sarai failed to remit employee-source deductions, left a trust shortage of $11,154.89 for a client, and breached undertakings in relation to his real estate conveyancing practice.
None of the law society's allegations have been proven, and a hearing is scheduled on January 25. Sarai, who was called to the bar in 2002, declined to identify if it was the mayor or one of his staff members who contacted him about the police-board position. When asked if the mayor's office knew about the law society's citation, Sarai replied: "I'm sure they did."
The mayor's office did not return a call by deadline. Before the last federal election, Sarai announced he would seek the federal Liberal nomination in Vancouver South. Prime Minister Paul Martin ended his candidacy by appointing former premier Ujjal Dosanjh to run in the riding. Sarai told the Straight that he listed Dosanjh, federal Industry Minister David Emerson, and B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Wally Oppal as references on a résumé for the police-board opening. Sarai acknowledged that he didn't contact the trio in advance.
The law society retained William Kinsey to conduct an audit of the law firm Legge Sarai & Associates. In 2003, a law society hearing panel found Sarai's former partner, Brian Maurice Legge, guilty of professional misconduct and breach of professional rules for numerous violations, including allowing "substantial trust shortages" in client files, failing to report these shortages to the society, and failing to remit collected GST, PST, and employee income-tax deductions.