BCSC declares ‘new era of investor protection’

Provincial government’s changes to Securities Act lay groundwork for ‘strongest enforcement powers in Canada’

BCSC declares ‘new era of investor protection’

In just a few weeks, the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) will have some of the strongest powers to protect investors in the country.

The regulator has announced that it will have a broader ability to regulate misconduct as over 100 changes made by the provincial government to the Securities Act take effect on March 27.

“We want to thank the B.C. government for ushering in a new era of investor protection in this province and introducing tougher consequences for people who break the law,” BCSC Chair and CEO Brenda Leong said in a statement. “These changes give us powerful new tools to help us collect money from wrongdoers and return funds to victims.”

Aside from being able to pursue more wrongdoers, the regulator said it will have more authority to freeze property and other assets. It will also have expanded powers to collect financial sanctions by seizing assets, such as registered retirement savings plans, and asking the ICBC to refuse to renew driver’s licenses and license plates.

Other powers, many of which the BCSC said are unprecedented in Canada, include:

  • Mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain types of fraud;
  • Increased penalties for certain types of misconduct;
  • New prohibitions on false or misleading statements; and
  • Tighter rules around promotional activities

“With the new powers for the B.C. Securities Commission coming into effect, people can feel confident knowing that B.C.'s investment markets are protected by the strongest enforcement powers in Canada,” said B.C. Finance Minister Carole James. “This is one more step we're taking to build a fair B.C. economy and show fraudsters that there are consequences to breaking the rules in British Columbia.”

Aside from granting new collection and enforcement powers to the BCSC, the amendments modernize the Securities Act to account for evolving markets and systemic risk. Part of that is a regime for derivatives and benchmarks that is harmonized with other Canadian jurisdictions such as Alberta and Ontario.


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