The British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) launched a Whistleblower Program (BC Policy 15-604) on November 7, 2023. The program offers financial awards, ranging from C$1,000 to C$250,000, for information that leads to a successful enforcement result.
Successful enforcement results include halt trades, preservation orders, notices of administrative monetary penalties, notices of hearing, settlement agreements, sanctions imposed after hearings, collections, or the identification and location of assets of those indebted to the BCSC. If information leads to multiple successful enforcement results, the award will be capped at C$500,000. If there are multiple whistleblowers, the maximums will apply to the total payout. The executive director has discretion to increase any award beyond the maximums, if doing so is in the public interest.
To determine the amount of an award, the executive director will consider all relevant factors, including how quickly the whistleblower reported to the Office of the Whistleblower, how serious was the misconduct, how much they were involved in the misconduct, how much the information contributed to the result, and how much hardship they faced in exposing the wrongdoing. The awards are not subject to review or appeal.
Certain information will not result in an award, such as information about the whistleblower’s own wrongdoing, information that is false or misleading, information acquired illegally, or information that is subject to solicitor-client privilege.
BCSC Promises to Pay More Awards More Quickly
British Columbia first enacted whistleblower protections in March 2020 to protect employees from reprisal. It now hopes whistleblower awards will increase reporting. The BCSC is aware that its awards are lower than other market regulators but says it will pay for more enforcement outcomes and it will pay more quickly.
The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) offers awards of up to C$5-million but only after the OSC obtains a final order over C$1-million, either by imposing monetary sanctions or the making of a voluntary payment, and after any appeal period has expired. Since launching its whistleblower program in 2016, the OSC reported 797 tips from over 840 whistleblowers and awarded C$9.33-million to 11 whistleblowers as of March 31, 2022.
Both Quebec’s Autorité des marchés financiers and the Alberta Securities Commission have whistleblower programs, but neither province offers any financial awards for information.
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