Former NB deputy attorney general arrested in GTA for fraud

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Fredericton (August 28, 2020) – Peel police arrested disbarred lawyer and former New Brunswick deputy attorney general, Yassin Choukri, for fraud on August 26. He was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant by the Fredericton police on eight charges of fraud. Choukri is accused of misappropriating client funds over several years before he disappeared from New Brunswick in 2016. None of the allegations have been tested in court.

Disbarred Fredericton lawyer, Yassin Choukri, who served as New Brunswick’s deputy attorney general from 2003 to 2006, is in the custody of the Peel police. Authorities arrested him on August 26 in Ontario, after the Fredericton police issued a Canada-wide warrant against him in connection with fraud charges, according to a press release issued on August 27.

Allegations regarding misappropriation of client funds

In December 2016, the Fredericton police received two separate fraud complaints from individuals who claimed that Choukri misappropriated more than $700,000 from clients. Previously in the fall of 2016, the New Brunswick Law Society suspended the former attorney general on the grounds of misappropriation allegations. Thereafter, he disappeared from the province and abandoned his Fredericton law practice with potentially $21,658, which he allegedly took out of his clients’ trust account.

One year later, in December of 2017, the New Brunswick Law Society disbarred Choukri in his absence. A panel of the law society’s disciplinary committee found him guilty of abandoning his clients and his practice, misleading his clients, and misappropriating client trust funds. The discipline hearing determined that he had misappropriated more than $720,000 from 10 former clients over several years. Subsequently, the Law Society handed its evidence against Choukri over to the Fredericton police. However, none of the allegations have been tested in court.

Long-time investigation against New Brunswick’s former deputy attorney general

Although the investigation started in December 2016, it was not until August 14 of this year that the Fredericton police issued a Canada-wide warrant for Choukri’s arrest. One of the reasons for the delay was that in New Brunswick the Crown Prosecutors Office has to pre-approve all criminal charges before being laid in court. Therefore, the New Brunswick Crown directed any charges to be forwarded to the Nova Scotia Crown Prosecutors Office in Halifax in order to avoid any conflict of interest resulting from Choukri’s past role as deputy minister of justice.

Choukri was deputy attorney general and minister of justice from 2003 until 2006 in Bernard Lord’s cabinet. The former New Brunswick premier and Choukri had a long history. They were once law partners and Choukri served as the chief of staff in Lord’s office before he was appointed to the Progressive Conservative (PC) government in 2003. Later, premier David Alward appointed Choukri as the public intervenor for hearings before the Energy and Utilities Board in 2010.

With the help of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada as well as the Forensic Accounting Management Group, the police investigation has increased the total loss of Choukri’s offenses than what the Law Society first reported. The 53-year-old is facing seven counts of Indictable Fraud Over $5,000 and one count of Indictable Fraud Under $5,000.

Peel police arrested the disbarred lawyer

12 days after the Fredericton police issued the arrest warrant against the former attorney general, the Peel police arrested Choukri in the GTA where his last known address is located. On August 27, the Fredericton police confirmed that the Peel police held the former New Brunswick justice official in custody.

‘Plans are currently being made to return him to New Brunswick to answer to the fraud charges and continue with court proceedings,’ explained the Fredericton police in a statement. The police asked anyone with information on Yassin Choukri to contact Det. Matt LeBlanc of the Fredericton Police Force at 460-2300 or matthew.leblanc@fredericton.ca.

Read more: Appeal court holds up sentence against disbarred lawyer for business loan frauds