February 19, 2015 / 4:08 PM / 2 years ago

Canada's capital markets watchdogs issue 2014 enforcement report

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's provincial securities regulators fined wrongdoers and received compensation via settlement worth some C$124 million ($99 million) in 2014, an annual report released on Thursday showed.

While the patchwork of regional watchdogs have limited ability to prosecute financial crimes themselves, some of the biggest ones have in recent years teamed up with police to toughen their enforcement credentials.

The number of cases concluded and proceedings commenced in 2014 were lower than both 2012 and 2013, while the size of fines imposed jumped 65 percent from a year ago.

"Canadian securities regulators play an important role in the enforcement mosaic that identifies and removes threats to Canadian investors," said Bill Rice, who heads the umbrella Canadian Securities Administrators group, which includes Canada's ten provincial and three territorial regulators.

"Our effectiveness is enhanced by a strong spirit of cooperation among our members and with other agencies that allows the CSA to stay ahead of emerging misconduct trends."

In some cases, CSA member regulators settle cases against individuals and organizations who agree to make voluntary payments while not admitting liability.

This was the case with accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP, which in September agreed to pay C$8 million over its audits of Sino-Forest Corp and another China-focused company.

In 2014, CSA's member regulators concluded a total of 105 cases against 92 individuals and 189 companies, levying more than C$58 million in fines and almost C$66 million in restitution, compensation and disgorgement. Five people were jailed for a total of seven and a half years.

In comparison, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a record 755 enforcement actions and obtained orders totaling $4.16 billion in disgorgement and penalties in the fiscal year ending in September 2014, according to preliminary figures.

($1 = 1.2535 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Alastair Sharp, additional reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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