D. Ross McGowan  


Executive Summary

Ross McGowan is National Chair of our Fraud Law Group. Ross does a broad range of compliance, risk management, and litigation support for financial institutions, and industry, with a focus primarily on providing legal advice to financial institutions to combat loss arising from fraud and corruption. He provides advice to financial institutions and others relating to operations, payment systems, policy advice and regulatory compliance. He has acted on matters ranging from litigation defence work of individual customer disputes to mass tort Ponzi Scheme claims, and provides operations and compliance advice relating to the design of banking systems, account agreements, policy manuals, anti-corruption regulatory compliance and investigations affecting organizations globally.

Ross also works with many insurers, including fidelity, professional E&O, and D&O to provide coverage and subrogation advice relating to fraud losses, bondability of employees, policy design and defence of claims. As well, Ross is a leading lawyer in the area of commercial leasing disputes, advising landlords, property managers and tenants on an array of issues.

Representative Work

  • Litigation counsel and strategic advisor for many of Canada's banks and credit unions both at trial and appellate courts across Canada on national and provincial class action defence matters dealing with: investor claims arising from the collapse of some of Canada’s most notorious Ponzi Schemes; claims that have sought to challenge the legal validity of fractional reserve banking, and diverse range of claims requiring extensive knowledge of the Bills of Exchange Act, Canadian Payments Association ACSS Clearing Rules, Bank Act, Credit Union Incorporation Act, Financial Institutions Act, and other legislation.
  • Litigation counsel and strategic advisor for numerous specialty insurers (fidelity, D & O, professional E & O) on a range of compliance obligations, policy design, coverage opinions, subrogated claims and defence matters.
  • Advisor to organizations on anti-corruption and bribery policies, also providing investigation support, incident response and litigation counsel to organizations and boards facing crisis situations.
  • Advised and drafted account-operating agreements and operation protocols for multi-provincial, national and international use by credit unions and banks for both retail consumer banking and business banking.
  • Provides internal training  seminars to credit unions, banks and financial services industry groups on a wide array of risk management and regulatory compliance matters including privacy law, AML, payments systems, retail banking operations, compliance and risk management.
  • Jer v. Rashida Samji, Coast Capital Savings Credit Union, The Toronto-Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Canada et. al., 2013 BCSC 1671, defence counsel for financial institution in response to certification hearing on complex multi-claim Ponzi Scheme litigation.
  • Atlantic Potash Corp. v. HSBC Bank Canada 2013 ONSC 5014, defended claim for repayment of funds on a $2 million lost draft, seeking repayment without indemnity or security.
  • Royal Bank of Canada v. B.M.P. Global Distribution Inc., 2007 BCSC 1438; 2011 BCSC 458; and 2011 BCSC 1650; counsel for bank in relation to claims pertaining to restitution based on negotiation of counterfeit cheque, the implication of inter-bank indemnities, without prejudice privilege, special costs awards and issue estoppel, (being the companion case to BMP Global v. Bank of Nova Scotia, 2009 SCC 15).
  • National Holdings Ltd. v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, John Kerasiotis and 354401 B.C. Ltd., SCBC Vancouver Registry Action No. S034213, 2005 BCSC 1730; defended Bank on allegation of tortious conversion of counterfeit cheque via negotiation by innocent third party.
  • Dempsey et al. v. Envision Credit Union et al., SCBC New Westminster Registry Action No. S91786, Darmantchev et al v. MBNA Canada Bank et al, SCBC Vancouver Registry Action No. L050637, Gravlin et al v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce et al, SCBC Vancouver Registry Action No. L050149, Citi Cards Canada Inc. v. Pedro Liong et al, SCBC New Westminster Registry Action No. S89429, Bank of Montreal v. Liong et al, SCBC Vancouver Registry Action No. S044649, MBNA Canada Bank v. Luinenburg, SCBC Vancouver Registry Action No. S045442, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce v. Luinenburg v. Kronis et al, SCBC New Westminster Registry Action No. S87315, brought under the Class Proceedings Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 50, 2007 BCSC 1276; 2006 BCSC 1324; 2006 BCSC 750; 2005 BCSC 1730  defended a group of banks and credit unions from putative class claims attacking validity of fractional reserve banking by a large group of debt protestors advancing the “sovereign man or free man on the land” theory.  Proceedings included recusal motions, striking pleadings, and ultimately an award of special costs in favour of the banks.
  • Giles v. Westminster Savings Credit Union et al, SCBC Vancouver Registry Action No. S004562, 2002 BCSC 1583;  2007 BCCA 411; 2007 BCSC 1438; 2007 BCCA 411;  2008 BCCA 62;  2008 BCSC 1312; 2009 BCSC 279  2009 BCSC 1357  2010 BCCA 282, defended account manager for Credit Union from mass tort claim involving approximately 500 investors in a failed investment program alleged to have been a Ponzi Scheme giving rise to a $36 million loss.
  • FWC Holdings Ltd. and Interpac Log & Lumber Ltd. v. Virtue Films Inc., 2009 BCSC 1563; defended claims asserting existence of 'delayed demand' promissory notes outside of limitations period, and striking down notes as void for uncertainty.
  • Shiokawa v. Pacific Coast Savings Credit Union and Woods Adair, 2005 BCCA 95, pursued appeal on behalf of Credit Union for recovery of losses arising from mortgage fraud.
  • United Savings Credit Union v. 631252 B.C. Ltd. et al.  2002 BCSC 1681; In the Matter of the Legal Profession Act and Wirick 2002 BCSC 1355;  counsel to bank in relation to the “Wirick Mortgage Fraud”, a multi-million dollar multi-property mortgage fraud arising from breaches of undertaking by a lawyer.  As counsel, represented the bank on resolution of inter-related claims touching more than 75 properties on B.C.’s largest most complex mortgage fraud.
  • Glenys Mino v. Pacific Coast Credit Union d.b.a. Coast Capital Savings Credit Union, 2001 BCSC 1510;  2002 BCSC 1334,  2002 BCCA 519, defended Credit Union in relation to allegations of failure to provide required life insurance on mortgage.

Publications & Presentations

  • Co-Author, "Canada Updates AML/ATF Regulations and Guidance," BLG Publication, July 2016.
  • Co-Author, "International Compliance - Anti-bribery and Corruption Laws," (Canada Chapter [4]), C. H. BECK, Hart, Nomos, July, 2016.
  • Co-Presenter, "From Curbside to Store Front: Risks of Rewards From the Business of Marihuana," BLG Seminar, June 2016.
  • Co-Author, "International Compliance - Legal Requirements of Business Organisation in Over 30 Countries," (Canada Chapter [4]), C. H. BECK, Hart, Nomos, May, 2016.
  • Speaker, "Lin & Tang v. CIBC Mortgages Inc: A Little Change to the Law of Property in British Columbia?," Risk Management Association, April 2016.
  • Speaker, "Data Breach: Cyber Security and Erroneous Disclosure," The Canadian Institute: Payments Compliance in Canada, February 2016.
  • Speaker, "Fundamentals of Credit Union Risk Management: 'No Good Deed Goes Unpunished'," Security Officer Training,  November 2015.
  • Speaker, "Foreign Anti-Corruption Laws," Institute of Internal Auditors, Vancouver Island Fraud Conference, October 2015.
  • Co-Presenter, "Foreign Anti-Corruption Laws – Why You Need a Corporate Policy on Foreign Anti-Corruption (and Foreign Political Contributions) and What it Should Contain," Institute of Internal Auditors, October 2015.
  • Co-Presenter, "Bitcoin: Introducing the Future of Money," Canadian Bar Association: Banking Law Section, October 2015.
  • Speaker, "How to Untie a Ponzi Scheme: From First Principles to the Proverbial Gordian Knot," Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Canadian National Conference, Ottawa, September 2015.
  • Co-Author, "Supreme Court of Canada Decision Cautions Lawyers, Banks, Brokers, and Other Third Parties Holding Funds Subject to Freezing Injunction," Commercial Insolvency Reporter, Vol. 27, No. 5, June 2015.
  • Speaker, "Privacy Breach and Erroneous Disclosure – If a Breach Happens but Nobody is Harmed… Do We Really Care?," Canadian Bar Association, June 2015.
  • Speaker, "The Life and End Times of a Commercial Tenancy," The Continuing Legal Education Society of BC (CLEBC), June 2015.
  • Speaker, "Cybersecurity and Data Breach: Head in the Clouds or Feet Firmly Planted?," Canadian Bar Association, May 2015.
  • Co-Author, "The Regulation of Virtual Currencies in Canada," Internet and E-Commerce Law in Canada, October 2014.
  • Speaker, “Health, Life and Disability Insurance: Fraud Fighter’s Tool Kit” Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association National Conference, 2013.
  • Speaker, “Infidelity Issues: A few Answers about Fidelity Insurance” Risk and Insurance Managers Association National Conference, 2013.
  • Speaker, “Class Actions: Mortgage Pre-payment Penalties: The consumers are revolting” Credit Union Lenders Conference, 2013.
  • Speaker, “Fraud on Financial Institutions: A Quick Guide to Ponzi Schemes,”  International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators, 2012.
  • Speaker, “Payments Fraud: The Evolution of Counterfeit Items, Identity Theft and Account Take-overs,” Canadian Payments Association, National  Conference, 2012.
  • Contributing Author/Editor, “Searches at a Glance” and “Fraudulent Transactions,” British Columbia Creditors’ Remedies Practice Manual, The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, 2011.
  • Speaker, “Debt Protestors – and the Sovereign Man Ideology,” Risk and Insurance Managers Association’s Canadian Western Conference, 2011.
  • Author, “Mortgage Fraud: Improving Recovery through ‘Waiver of Tort,’” Lexology, September 2010.
  • Panel Speaker, “Anti-Money-Laundering,” Canadian Payments Association’s National Bi-Annual Industry Conference, 2010 (with representatives from FINTRAC and the RCMP).
  • Speaker, “Evaluating and Protecting against Third-Party Fraud Risk: From Ponzi Schemes to Fictitious Financings,” Institute of Internal Auditors’ Canadian National Conference, 2010.
  • Co-Author, “A Powerful Freeze from Canada: Mareva Injunctions Stop Fraudsters Cold,” Lexpert, November 2009.
  • Co-Author, “Lost and Stolen Cheques, Bank Drafts and Trust Cheques: Some Modest But Partial Solutions, The Advocate, March 2009.  

Rankings & Recognitions

  • Recognized in the 2019 (and since 2016) editions of Benchmark Canada — The Definitive Guide to Canada's Leading Litigation Firms & Attorneys as a "Local Litigation Star: British Columbia" and a "Litigation Star: Arbitration, Class Actions, Commercial, Securities, White Collar Crime, General Commercial, Asset Recovery and Business Crime Defence."
  • Recognized in the 2018 edition of Expert Guides: The World's Leading Lawyers Chosen by Their Peers: Canada (White Collar Crime).
  • Recognized in the 2017 edition of Who's Who Legal: Asset Recovery.
  • Recognized in the 2016 edition of Expert Guides: The World's Leading Lawyers Chosen by Their Peers: Canada (White Collar Crime).
  • Recognized in the 2016 edition (and since 2010) of Who’s Who Legal: Canada (Business Crime Defence).
  • Winner of The Columbus International Film and Video Festival’s “Chris Award,” for production of a video about the consequences of employee fraud, 1996.