George Yamamoto is being fined $100,000 and has been banned permanently from conducting securities related business, after two high net worth clients arranged to leave Yamamoto bequests in their wills – legacies which he failed to renounce in a timely enough fashion for the regulatory hearing panel.
The former dealing representative with HollisWealth Advisory Services Inc., later Investia Financial Services Inc., agreed that he was aware he was named the recipient of legacies in the wills of two clients, “which gave rise to conflicts or potential conflicts of interest that the respondent failed to disclose to the member or otherwise address by the exercise of responsible business judgement,” the regulator states. Between July and August 2020 he also solicited money from the two clients, and later disclosed information regarding the business affairs of those two clients, to their son, without their consent, failing to maintain the client’s information in confidence.
Registered since 1996, Yamamoto was a family friend of the two clients, frequently accompanying them to their business meetings and acting as their translator. Although he had no role in selecting their lawyer, he did arrange and attend meetings between the clients and their lawyer. In November 2018 he was informed that the clients wanted to leave him legacies in their wills in the amounts of $350,000 and $150,000.
“The respondent did not inform clients A and B that he could not accept the legacies,” the settlement agreement states. “It was not until August 6, 2020 that he renounced the legacies,” they add. “At the time when he renounced the legacies, the respondent also provided invoices to clients A and B demanding that they pay him a total of $656,024 plus 13 per cent HST. On August 19, 2020, clients A and B executed new wills in which the respondent was not named in any capacity.”
The invoices were discovered by an unlicensed assistant who reported the matter to Investia.
Although the clients were high net worth clients and the legacies in question were a small percentage of their total assets, the clients were both deemed to be vulnerable due to the fact that English was not their first language. The clients also did not ultimately pay Yamamoto any of the amounts he demanded in the invoices.
In addition to the fine and permanent ban, Yamamoto was also ordered to pay costs in the amount of $5,000.