The Law Society of Upper Canada says it is satisfied that a Toronto lawyer who went missing amid a probe of $3-million in allegedly misappropriated client funds is dead.
Law Society spokesman Roy Thomas said the regulator would be updating its web registry shortly to state that lawyer Javad Heydary had died.
Earlier Tuesday, the Law Society of Upper Canada was attempting to confirm that Mr. Heydary had died after a report that a funeral was held for him north of Toronto this week.
It’s the latest twist in the bizarre story of Mr. Heydary, 49, who left for his native Iran last month, defying a court order to repay the bulk of the missing money and prompting the law society to seize control of the assets of a web of small law firms that he either owns or controls and launch its own investigation.
The Toronto Star reported Tuesday that a funeral was held in Richmond Hill on Monday for Mr. Heydary, with his body repatriated last week.
Mr. Heydary was found to be in contempt of court at a hearing Nov. 29 for defying a court order to repay the client funds. He did not show up for the hearing. He was supposed to be sentenced for contempt at a hearing Tuesday. The hearing on sentencing for the contempt finding for Mr. Heydary and one of his law firms has been put off until Jan. 20.
Former clients of Mr. Heydary’s have been suing him to get their hands on $3.6-million won in a settlement of a shareholder dispute in which he acted for them. But according to court documents filed by the Law Society, Mr. Heydary’s trust account had just $320,000 left in it, and Mr. Heydary left the country Nov. 15.
On Nov. 29, Justice Julie Thorburn of the Ontario Superior Court agreed with lawyers for Mr. Heydary’s former clients and found Mr. Heydary in contempt, saying he had “deliberately or recklessly disregarded” her order to immediately repay $2.1-million and to show that the remaining $1.5-million was still held in trust.
Questions and rumours swirled after Mr. Heydary’s sudden disappearance and the collapse of his law firms. According to the Law Society, all of the 11 to 15 other lawyers involved in his firms have resigned. But a lawyer for the Law Society of Upper Canada told court last month that they continue to work with existing clients.