The Insurance Council of British Columbia (ICoBC), on August 1, issued an order to Darwin Bernard Peter Braun (the licensee), cancelling his license and imposing a number of conditions, effective August 16.

On August 15, Braun appealed the order to the Financial Services Tribunal. The ICoBC consented to an interim stay of the order on the condition that the licensee be directly supervised during the appeal process.

Under the order, Braun’s license would be cancelled with no opportunity to reapply for five years. Braun was also fined $10,000 and assessed investigation and hearing costs of $3,125 and $48,903.20, respectively. In light of the fact that Braun’s son has been the nominee of his agency since October 2017, Braun is also prohibited from being a shareholder, partner, officer, director or employee of any licensed insurance agency for a period of five years. “The hearing committee believes that this additional order is necessary to protect the public interest by ensuring that the licensee is not able to continue working within the agency in an unlicensed capacity,” the hearing committee’s chair wrote in the order.

Although Braun argued that council could meet its public interest mandate in this instance with a one year period of suspension, coupled with a $5,000 fine, council submitted that the licensee was an ongoing risk to the public and that the appropriate order was for council to permanently cancel Braun’s license.

Exempt market products

According to the documents, Braun failed to undertake a proper needs analysis, failed to ensure his client was in a position to make an informed decision about the purchase of two policies and made a series of misrepresentations to the insurer about the client’s personal and financial circumstances. Braun also held himself out as a general financial planner, regularly provided advice in areas that were well beyond the scope of his license, and failed to disclose significant conflicts of interest when he made a series of recommendations to several clients and facilitated a series of client investments in exempt market products (EMPs).

“This was a very troubling case for the hearing committee,” they write. “The licensee’s actions were inexcusable and his misconduct was serious. The licensee’s promotion of the above-noted EMPs was a clear breach of the professional obligations that he owed to his clients and his actions resulted in very serious financial consequences.”

“In encouraging his unsophisticated but wealthy client to purchase these investments, the licensee obviously put his own personal interests ahead of those of his clients. On each such occasion, the licensee breached the professional duties he owed to his clients and his actions revealed very significant concerns with respect to his competence, trustworthiness and good faith.”