Commission enforcement on the rise

Commission enforcement on the rise

Commission enforcement on the rise A new report from the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) offers a mixed bag of results for the industry: for while enforcement was up, regulatory proceedings were down.

According to its report, there were 31 new enforcement cases during 2015 – that’s a leap from 22 during the previous year. The top offences were illegal distributions (eight cases), fraud (seven cases) and breach of orders (six cases). From these cases, 18 went before the commission’s tribunal: also a rise from last year’s figure of 14. Indeed there were three criminal cases and 10 quasi-criminal cases.

However, while there was a significant leap in cases during the year, fewer regulatory proceedings took place – 84 cases were completed during 2015, a slip from 91 during the prior year. However, the number of court cases increased – nine compared to four – while the amount of cases settled also went up – 38, compared to 29.

Meanwhile, total value of monetary penalties slipped during the year – down from $73.4 million to $67 million. However, in contrast, the value of administrative penalties and settlements actually increased: up from $19.5 million to $20.1 million.

According to Maureen Jensen, the CEO and chairwoman of the OSC, the report suggests that the commission is working hard to ensure the interests of advisors and investors alike.

“Ontario investors can be confident that our enforcement team is working hard to safeguard their interests,” she said. “Using innovative enforcement tools to increase our reach and effectiveness, we are protecting investors and Ontario’s capital markets.”

Going forward, the OSC is planning to introduce a whistleblower program that will give rewards to those who tip-off activity that leads to enforcement actions.

“The OSC’s vigilant and responsive approach to enforcement promotes a culture of integrity and compliance in Ontario's capital markets,” said Tom Atkinson, director of enforcement at the OSC. “Our active, innovative enforcement program is helping to protect investors from financial harm and sending a clear message to potential wrongdoers.”