New unit will focus on the investigation and prosecution of criminal violations of securities laws.
The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) confirmed today that it has created a new unit to focus on the investigation and prosecution of criminal violations of securities laws.
The Financial Post first reported the existence of the new unit, which was confirmed today by the OSC’s director of enforcement, Tom Atkinson. “We’ve established momentum on the criminal side and are focusing our efforts with a team of professionals dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of quasi-criminal matters and violations of the Criminal Code,” he said today.
Indeed, over the past couple of years, the OSC has explicitly focused on enhancing enforcement in part by focusing on fraud cases, taking more of these cases to court, and seeking tougher penalties. According to its most recent enforcement stats, which were published earlier this year, over half of the cases it brought in 2012 involved allegations of fraud. Seven of those cases went before the Ontario Court of Justice, and six of them included fraud charges.
“We recognize the serious harm that those involved in securities fraud offences perpetrate against retail investors,” Atkinson says. “As such, we’re focused on bringing more cases before the Ontario Court of Justice where sanctions, including fines and jail sentences, are expected to have a greater deterrent effect.”
The new unit is to team up with police to enhance its ability to bring these sorts of cases. “We want to leverage our expertise in the area of securities with law enforcement to ensure that criminal behaviour is dealt with in the appropriate criminal forum,” notes Atkinson.