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By Yin Wilczek
Feb. 4 — The largest securities regulator in Canada—the Ontario Securities Commission—is seeking comment on a proposal to establish the first whistle-blower bounty program in Canada for the reporting of securities violations.
The proposed program would reward whistle-blowers who come forward with original and credible information with up to C$1.5 million ($1.19 million) upon the successful resolution of an administrative enforcement action in which total sanctions or settlements exceed C$1 million ($796,000).
“We have proposed a realistic and concrete program that, in our view, needs to be put into action for the benefit of Ontario investors,” said Howard Wetston, chief executive officer and chair of the OSC, in a Feb. 3 release. “We see a whistleblowing program as an important enforcement tool—one that will encourage individuals with high quality information to come forward and report misconduct.”
The comment period expires May 4. The OSC also said it intends to host a roundtable on the proposed framework during the comment period, the details of which it will announce later.
In developing the proposal, the commission said its staff looked to the Securities and Exchange Commission's whistle-blower bounty program, among others.
SEC officials have credited the agency's reward program—established in August 2011—with generating high-quality tips. Last year, the agency awarded its largest bounty to date—more than $30 million—to a foreign tipster who helped it to unveil an ongoing fraud.
The OSC program would allow whistle-blowers to remain anonymous. The commission also said it would consider requesting legislative amendments to make it a violation of the Ontario Securities Act for employers to retaliate against whistle-blowers and to provide whistle-blowers who have experienced workplace retaliation with a statutory right of action.
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The OSC's release and the proposal are available at http://www.osc.gov.on.ca/en/NewsEvents_nr_20150203_whistleblower-program.htm.
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