BCSC Whistleblower Program to Combat Investment Fraud and Market Misconduct

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Canadian Scales of Justice, representing the BCSC whistleblower program

The British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) will now reward individuals who provide valuable information regarding investment fraud and other serious market misconduct. The whistleblower awards, ranging from $1,000 to $250,000, will be determined based on the promptness of the information’s reporting, its contribution to enforcement outcomes, the severity of the misconduct, and other relevant factors. In certain cases, a whistleblower may receive multiple awards for the same information, with a maximum payout of $500,000.

The BCSC has a specialized whistleblower program designed for B.C.’s investment market. It offers simplified qualification criteria and fast-tracked award processing. BCSC Whistleblowers may qualify for an award if their information contributes to BCSC enforcement actions, such as formal allegations, sanctions, or identifying assets of individuals facing financial penalties.

Brenda Leong, the BCSC’s Chair and CEO, emphasized the importance of reporting suspicious activity, stating that these awards provide an added incentive for individuals to come forward and contribute to a more honest and fair market. The BCSC’s Executive Director, with staff recommendations, will determine the award amount, if applicable, considering the value of the provided information.

While the awards may be lower compared to other regulators, the BCSC aims to cover a broader range of enforcement outcomes and expedite payment processes. Whistleblowers can submit tips through a dedicated online portal, by mail, or by phone, and they have the option to remain anonymous, although their identity must be disclosed to the BCSC to receive an award. British Columbia’s Securities Act protects whistleblowers from retaliation solely based on their provision of information to the BCSC.

To qualify for a whistleblower award, individuals must report someone else’s wrongdoing and are excluded from receiving an award if they provide information only about themselves. However, they may be eligible for cooperation credit under a different BCSC policy. Whistleblowers who provided information before November 7, 2023, are not eligible for an award, but information related to misconduct before that date will remain eligible.

The BCSC, an independent provincial government agency, regulates capital markets in British Columbia to ensure a fair and trustworthy securities market and promote a dynamic and competitive securities industry that provides investment opportunities and access to capital.

Are there Other Canadian Whistleblower Programs?

Yes, there are other whistleblower programs in Canada.

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), for instance, has a similar program to encourage individuals to report potential violations of securities laws. The OSC whistleblower program, introduced in 2016, offers financial awards to whistleblowers whose tips lead to enforcement action. The program, like BCSC’s, allows whistleblowers to report anonymously and provides robust protections against retaliation.

The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), the body that regulates Quebec’s financial markets, also has a whistleblower program, albeit without a monetary reward system. The AMF emphasizes confidentiality and protection against retaliation for whistleblowers. The existence of these programs across provinces underscores Canada’s commitment to promoting integrity and accountability in its financial markets.