Vancouver (October 28, 2019) – The provincial government of British Columbia announced on October 21 the modernization of the Securities Act giving the B.C. Securities Commission(BCSC) the strongest collection and enforcement powers in Canada. The aim of the more than 100, far-reaching changes to the Securities Act is to better protect investors and introduce tougher consequences for fraudsters. The new amendments include enhancements to freeze property, seizing registered retirement savings plans, refusing to issue or renew a driver’s license or license plates to market violators who owe money, among others.
The provincial government of British Columbia announced on October 21 more than 100 changes to the Securities Act. The British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) administrates the Act while regulating capital markets in B.C. The most extensive amendments since 1996 are supposed to enable the BCSC to better protect investors and introduce tougher consequences for fraudsters.
‘We now have new and better tools to go after the bad actors who break the law and cause significant harm to investors and the capital markets,’ said Brenda Leong, chair and CEO of the BCSC. The proposed amendments enable and broader existing powers of the province’s capital markets regulator to collect financial sanctions when there are assets to collect. The measures include freezing and seizing property transferred by fraudsters to third parties for below market value, or seizing registered retirement savings plans. Moreover, the BCSC’s investigative powers are supposed to be expanded for example to obtain information.
The BC government also seeks to increase penalties for certain types of misconduct, maximum fine and jail term amounts, and introducing minimum jail sentences for certain fraud types and reoffenders, while adding protection for whistleblowers. The BCSC will also be allowed to direct the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) to refuse to issue or renew a driver’s license or license plates of market violators who owe money. Furthermore, the fine enforcement and collection capabilities of the BCSC will be increased, developing a regime for derivates and benchmarks that is harmonized with other jurisdictions across Canada such as Alberta and Ontario.
“These changes send a clear signal to fraudsters that the rules do apply in B.C. and if you break them, there will be consequences. People can feel confident knowing that the investment markets will be protected today and into the future,” said Carole James, B.C. Minister of Finance.
The changes to the Securities Act equips the BCSC with the strongest collection and enforcement powers in Canada, according to the B.C. government. By modernizing the legislative framework of the provincial government agency, the province seeks to keep pace with the evolving markets and systemic risks.