A man found to have financially exploited his elderly aunt has been ordered to pay her $236,000 in damages by the Human Rights Tribunal of Quebec.
Judge Doris Thibault ordered Charles Finkelstein to reimburse the now 94-year-old Holocaust survivor just over $225,995, as well as pay a total of $10,000 in moral and punitive damages. Finkelstein was found to have taken her life savings.
The Romanian-born woman, who survived concentration camps during the Second World War, had physical and cognitive problems due to mild dementia.
In 2010, she entrusted Finkelstein, her sister’s son, to be her mandatary, giving him the power to manage her affairs in the event of her incapacitation.
The Montreal woman, who worked for many years as a nurses’ aide, retired in 1989.
The tribunal found that Finkelstein made transactions in his aunt’s name when she was not able to give clear consent. Significantly, they included the transfer of a large sum of money from the sale of a property, according to Thibault’s decision, which is dated March 7.
The case was the subject of a five-year investigation by the Quebec Human Rights Commission, which brought its findings before the tribunal.
“The benefit (to Finkelstein) is obvious,” the judgment reads. He “diverted large sums from his aunt’s accounts for his sole benefit. He gives no explanation as to the use of the amounts he has appropriated.”
In a press release, Philippe-André Tessier, the president of the Quebec Human Rights Commission, stated: “Each of the exploitation cases brought to our attention are both unique and leave sadness, even distress. With this new judgment, the tribunal affirms that the public is protected against this form of abuse, that is, financial exploitation. If in doubt concerning a possible exploitation situation, people should not hesitate to get informed or bring a complaint.”