Almost six years of torment had taken its toll on Hunter Wang and, by his own admission, he was at the “lowest point in his life” last fall.
Wang, now 37, was wracked with shame at being at the centre of a BCSC (BC Securities Commission) investigation, which took several years to conclude and virtually robbed him off his thirties.
It was then that the former Richmond and Vancouver-based financial strategist decided to call his mom in his native Taiwan for some much-needed parental advice.
“I felt ashamed of who I was as a person,” said Wang, a former employee of the shamed FS Financial Strategies Inc.
“(My mom) said there was a lesson to be learned here and to be confident about what had happened. And if the worst comes to the worst, I could go back home.”
Since then, Wang has started talking openly about the mistake he made when he followed the instructions of his boss, Frankie Lim, to coach an investor to lie to a BCSC investigator in 2014, as part of a larger industry probe into Lim’s and FS Financial Strategies’ dealings.
Wang contested the BCSC sanctions
Wang was found by a BCSC disciplinary panel to have obstructed the course of justice and, in 2021, was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine and was suspended from some investment market participation for two years.
He never contested the facts of the investigation, but what he did object to was the BCSC’s sanctions, which were arrived at via the BC Securities Act.
Indeed, the BC Court of Appeal agreed with Wang, who had claimed that the Securities Act’s definition of obstruction of justice at the time in 2014 pertains only to concealing or withholding evidence in the context of a formal BCSC investigation and not before it begins.
Two of the three appeal court justices agreed with that argument, based on the law’s language in 2014.
Although he felt a little relieved by the court ruling, the appeal judges still sent the matter back to the BCSC to deal with, further prolonging the agony for Wang.
He told the Richmond News that his life has been turned upside down by the process and the length of time it has taken the BCSC to reach its findings.
“By (the 2021 sanctions), it had already had a major effect on me,” admitted Wang.
“I was lumped into it because I worked with Frankie Lim. The Insurance Council of BC suspended my license in February 2017, banks started terminating relationships in 2018 and…2019.
“My reputation took a massive hit because I was in the news. I couldn’t conduct any business. In the financial industry, if you make a mistake, you are written off.
“I started seeing a psychologist in 2021. I just didn’t know what to do. They were trying to build me up. I lost all confidence in everything in my life.”
Wang was "hung out to dry" by the financial industry
Wang said, after his life started to unravel in 2017 he cashed in some investments and leaned on his family to survive, as no one would touch him a long stick.
“I started running a lot during covid, just to get out of the house and I tried to stay in the industry as a consultant, just working in the background for my sister,” he added.
“But in 2020 there was the first (BCSC) hearing in person, which was a huge event for me, personally and mentally. Being cross-examined was not a fun experience.
“I felt crushed as a human being, everything I did was being questioned. I know they were doing their job, but it was brutal.
“I remember crying afterwards. I was questioning my identity, who I was. Back in 2014, I was just following orders from the owner.”
Wang said it “one hearing after another” and that he felt “triggered every single time. And then another news story every single time.”
He said he felt hung out to dry by his former boss and the investigation, claiming that Lim refused to be a witness at his hearing, a testimony that his lawyer felt would have mitigated any future BCSC decision.
A BCSC panel ordered a group of companies in B.C., Alberta and Ontario - partly founded by Lim - to pay a total of $32.8 million for making misrepresentations to hundreds of investors, illegally selling securities and unregistered trading. The founders, including Lim, were also ordered to pay $2 million each, and were forever banned from B.C.’s investment markets.
A dark cloud has hung over Wang’s for his entire thirties, but he is hoping that, no matter what sanction BCSC ultimately imposes this time around, he can use his mistake and experience to educate others.
“I’ve been waiting for years for (the BCSC) to decide what they want to do with my life,” said Wang.
“I’m trying to get into the consultancy business and I’m trying to share my experience with people of what not to do. I don’t want this experience to cripple me.
“I don’t want this to take me down. I need to make it into something to help others. That’s why I’m speaking today as well.”