Canada's top securities regulator mulls whistleblower program

Tue Feb 3, 2015 4:37pm EST
 
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TORONTO Feb 3 (Reuters) - Canada's most prominent securities regulator said on Tuesday it is looking at launching a whistleblower program that would pay up to C$1.5 million ($1.21 million) to tipsters who help it snare those breaking securities laws.

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) proposal, the first of its kind in Canada, comes after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (OSC) awarded $30 million last September to an unnamed whistleblower who helped the regulator in a fraud case.

The OSC, the largest of Canada's 10 provincial securities regulators, said on Tuesday it had begun seeking input on the proposal from investors, lawyers and market participants.

Under the program, an employee or individual providing original and high quality information could receive up to 15 percent of the money collected by the regulator in settlements or sanctions.

Payouts would be capped at C$1.5 million. They will only be made upon final completion of a case, and only in those cases where monetary penalties exceed C$1 million.

The regulator said it would also work to prevent retaliation against Canadian whistleblowers, who lack the tough legal protections available in the United States.

The OSC said it would use all reasonable efforts to keep a whistleblower's identity confidential and may ask for changes to Ontario's Securities Act to include anti-retaliation provisions.

"We have proposed a realistic and concrete program that, in our view, needs to be put into action for the benefit of Ontario investors," OSC Chairman Howard Wetston said in a statement.

($1=$1.24 Canadian) (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; and Peter Galloway)