Newspaper article The Canadian Press

OSC Launches Whistleblower Program in Effort to Crack Down on White-Collar Crime

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

OSC Launches Whistleblower Program in Effort to Crack Down on White-Collar Crime

Article excerpt

OSC launches whistleblower program


TORONTO - Ontario's securities watchdog has launched the country's first paid whistleblower program, a move the securities commission says it expects will be a "game changer" in its attempts to stamp out white-collar crime such as accounting fraud, insider trading and market manipulation.

"These are sophisticated matters that can go undetected for long periods of time and seriously cause harm to investors," Maureen Jensen, chair and CEO of the Ontario Securities Commission, said Thursday.

"A whistleblower who has knowledge of these activities, of this kind of misconduct and who reports it will allow us to take early action and to potentially minimize or avoid investor losses."

Under the program, the OSC offers rewards of up to $5 million for tips that lead to successful prosecution and result in monetary penalties of $1 million or more.

Tipsters can receive five per cent to 15 per cent of the sanctions levied, with the total reward capped at $1.5 million. The maximum goes up to $5 million in cases where the securities regulator is able to collect at least $10 million in sanctions related to a case.

The program also includes protections for those who come forward, such as confidentiality and anti-retaliation measures.

Several components of the OSC's program were hotly debated during the consultation process, including how much to pay whistleblowers and whether those involved in the wrongdoing should be eligible for a reward.

The OSC had originally planned to cap maximum reward payments to $1.5 million, but it raised that after experts suggested that was too little to compensate senior executives who risk losing high-paying jobs and being blacklisted from their industries.

Quebec's securities regulator, the Autorite des marches financiers, launched a whistleblower program last month, but opted not to provide financial incentives at all.

The watchdog said it had reviewed other such programs around the world, including in the U. …

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