A former Merritt CIBC employee has been fined $300,000 for stealing more than $150,000 from an elderly client, and from the bank itself.
In an April 25 decision, Hope Moira Donna Thomas was found by the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada to have misappropriated $97,000 from a 79-year-old CIBC Merritt client and stole more than $64,000 from the bank during her time as an employee.
The decision says that in 2018, the client opened a tax-free savings account (TFSA) with Thomas and deposited $56,316 into it. Between February and August 2019, without the client’s knowledge or authorization, Thomas went on to process 12 redemptions from the client’s TFSA, account totalling $59,000, which was deposited into a fake account in the client’s name.
Thomas also racked up more than $5,000 in overdraft on the fake account. The decision adds Thomas also misappropriated $34,000 from a joint account the elderly client held with her husband, adding loans and a line of credit in the senior’s name to the tune of $59,000.
“Here, the respondent misappropriated $157,000 from the client and the bank,” reads the decision. “She held a position of trust with the client, who was elderly and vulnerable, whom she exploited in order to steal money for her own personal use.”
After being fired by CIBC in October 2019, Thomas was criminally charged with three counts of fraud, to which she pleaded guilty to one count, and is currently awaiting sentencing. The decision said that CIBC repaid the senior’s losses, but has not recovered any cost from Thomas, who also did not attend any of her scheduled Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada hearings.
“The misconduct in the present case is egregious. She stole money from an elderly client who trusted her and also defrauded the Bank by obtaining a loan in the Client’s name and using the proceeds for her personal use,” the release sates, adding, “She cannot be trusted with clients’ monies in the future.”
The decision also adds that Thomas has failed to recognizes the seriousness of her misconduct, and has not expressed remorse for her actions, which the association says is evident by her lack of participation in the hearing process.
Thomas is now banned for life from working in securities-related businesses, and has been fined $300,000 by the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada, plus an additional $10,000 in costs.