A realtor who lent $50,000 to a client for a deposit on a Richmond property has been penalized almost $28,000 for professional misconduct.
Last year, Wei (Vicky) Wang, now at Amex Broadway West Realty, was found to have created a conflict of interest with her loan and committed professional misconduct.
The former Real Estate Council of British Columbia, now the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA), investigated Wang's dealings after receiving a complaint from the client.
They found Wang had provided the loan in 2016 when the client didn’t have enough money for the deposit and was "hesitant" to buy the property.
The incident happened while Wang was still a realtor at Sutton Group West Coast Realty.
Despite Wang's claims that the money was provided out of friendship, BCFSA hearing officer Andrew Pendray found it was more likely than not that Wang provided the loan to secure her commission on the sale.
Now more than six months after the initial decision, the BCFSA has decided on sanctions for Wang and her company, Vicky Wang Personal Real Estate Corporation.
Remedial education needed for realtor: BCFSA
In a decision issued Jan. 5, Pendray ordered Wang and her company to pay an administrative penalty of $5,000 in addition to enforcement expenses of almost $23,000.
Pendray acknowledged Wang committed a "single incident of misconduct" which didn’t involve "a particularly vulnerable client." The client initiated the loan and Pendray noted there was no evidence showing the client was negatively affected by the loan, nor that any harm was done to the public in general.
However, he considered actions that create a conflict of interest and are motivated by "a desire to ensure a financial gain" trend "towards the more serious end of the spectrum" of misconduct and require deterrence for public protection.
The fact Wang felt pressured into agreeing to provide a commission rebate to the client to ensure the loan would be repaid and the fact the client started civil litigation against Wang did not lessen the gravity of her misconduct, Pendray explained.
"While it is unfortunate that Ms. Wang felt pressure to offer the client a commission reduction, I would reiterate that the situation she found herself in was due to the fact that she placed herself in a conflict of interest to begin with," he wrote.
He found providing such loans to clients creates "an untenable conflict" that puts the public at risk and an administrative penalty should be imposed to "prevent and discourage similar misconduct" and "maintain public confidence in the industry."
He ordered Wang go through remedial education at UBC's Sauder School of Business and the Real Estate Institute of Canada's ethics course within six months because she insisted she "did not misconduct herself."
Although the BCFSA asked for a repayment of almost $25,000 in enforcement expenses including investigative costs and legal costs, Pendray reduced the amount by $2,000 because the matter had proceeded by written submissions without a hearing.
Pendray declined to address Wang's submissions disagreeing with the misconduct finding, as she has the right to make an appeal to the Financial Services Tribunal once her sanctions were issued.
Wang has 30 days to appeal the decision.