THE British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) will soon have some of the strongest powers in the country to protect investors as the provincial government’s landmark changes to the Securities Act (the Act) are set to take effect on March 27.
The amendments broaden the types of misconduct the BCSC regulates, allow it to pursue more wrongdoers and enhance its ability to freeze property and other assets. The BCSC will also have expanded powers to collect financial sanctions when there are assets to collect, including seizing registered retirement savings plans and asking ICBC to refuse to renew driver’s licences and licence plates.
“We want to thank the B.C. government for ushering in a new era of investor protection in this province and introducing tougher consequences for people who break the law,” said Brenda Leong, Chair and CEO of the BCSC. “These changes give us powerful new tools to help us collect money from wrongdoers and return funds to victims.”
Many of the new powers are unprecedented in Canada, including:
- mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain types of fraud
- increased penalties for certain types of misconduct
- new prohibitions on false or misleading statements
- tighter rules around promotional activities
“With the new powers for the B.C. Securities Commission coming into effect, people can feel confident knowing that B.C.’s investment markets are protected by the strongest enforcement powers in Canada,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “This is one more step we’re taking to build a fair B.C. economy and show fraudsters that there are consequences to breaking the rules in British Columbia.”
In addition to enhancing the BCSC’s collection and enforcement powers, the amendments modernize the Act to ensure it is keeping pace with evolving markets and systemic risk. This includes a regime for derivatives and benchmarks that is harmonized with other jurisdictions across Canada such as Alberta and Ontario.
The legislation contains more than 100 changes to the Act, the most extensive amendments since it was enacted in 1996.