Update on OSC Whistleblower Program highlights continuing success

For Immediate Release OSC

TORONTO – The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) today provided an update on its Whistleblower Program, which has received tips from around the globe that have led to successful enforcement action against 19 respondents and resulted in $9.33 million awarded to whistleblowers.

“The program is a proven success and illustrates the valuable public service that whistleblowers provide,” said Jeff Kehoe, Director of Enforcement at the OSC. “Whistleblowers play a critical role in advancing our enforcement efforts against wrongdoers and protecting investors from harm. We commend the strength and fortitude of the individuals who come forward with tips.”

The OSC Whistleblower Program launched in 2016 and is the first and only paid program of its kind run by a Canadian securities regulator. Whistleblowers who submit original information about violations of Ontario securities law may be eligible for awards of up to $5 million. Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the program, and all reasonable efforts are made to ensure a whistleblower’s identity is protected.

Key highlights from the update include:

  • More than $9 million awarded to 11 whistleblowers
  • Approximately $48 million in monetary sanctions and voluntary payments to date – among other sanctions ordered, such as bans
  • Growth in program awareness reflected by a 17 per cent average year over year increase in tips since 2018
  • Demonstrated global reach with tips originating from six continents and 30 countries and covering a diverse range of complex or hard-to-detect misconduct
  • A number of precedent setting cases and cases that enabled the OSC to deliver clear and timely regulatory messages to specific industries and market players

Looking ahead, the OSC is eager to sustain momentum by increasing the effectiveness of the program and the results it delivers. This will include building further awareness of the program, exploring the potential to issue more awards and larger award amounts, and tailoring outreach efforts to attract more tips relating to emerging and novel issues like greenwashing, auditor misconduct, improper tied selling or misuse of algorithms and artificial intelligence.

Tips that are most likely to result in successful enforcement action leading to monetary awards are made up of high-quality, timely, specific, and credible information and often include some form of analysis. Many whistleblowers submit tips on their own and others submit tips anonymously through counsel. In some cases, counsel assists whistleblowers with analysis or to clarify allegations. Given the increasingly global nature of capital markets, the OSC sees meaningful tips come in from across Canada and the U.S. and around the globe.

Tips can be submitted online to www.oscwhistleblower.ca and potential or existing whistleblowers with questions can call the program’s confidential hotline at 1-888-OSC-5553 (1-888-672-5553).

Visit the OSC’s website to read the full update or to learn more about the program.

The mandate of the OSC is to provide protection to investors from unfair, improper or fraudulent practices, to foster fair, efficient and competitive capital markets and confidence in the capital markets, to foster capital formation, and to contribute to the stability of the financial system and the reduction of systemic risk. Investors are urged to check the registration of any persons or company offering an investment opportunity and to review the OSC investor materials available at http://www.osc.ca.

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