Topic: White collar crime

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Passive Reliance on Fellow Director is Insufficient for Due Diligence Defence

In a judgment dated June 9, 2020, the Superior Court of Quebec in Autorité des marchés financiers v. Descheneaux, 2020 QCCS 1779 (Justice R. Mongeon) confirmed that passive reliance on a fellow director, more knowledgeable and experienced with the legal requirements of raising capital under applicable securities laws, is insufficient to ground a due diligence defence to a strict liability offence such as breaches to the Quebec Securities Act.

Mr. Descheneaux, an officer and director of delSECUR, faced 18 counts of breaches of the Securities Act, for distributing securities without a prospectus and for acting as an … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Scams on the Rise and Enforcement on the Horizon

As COVID-19 continues to impact capital markets around the world, securities regulators in North America are responding to an increasing number of securities-related scams. Provincial securities regulators across Canada, as well as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, have now issued official warnings about fraudulent investment offerings and other scams that target investors.

Many of the alleged scams involve “pump and dump” tactics, where the perpetrators artificially inflate the price of a stock by releasing false information, then sell their stock before the market learns that the information was false. For example, on April 23, 2020, the Ontario Securities … Continue Reading

Landmark Changes to the BC Securities Act are Set to Take Effect March 27

As previously reported, on October 21, 2019, the BC provincial government announced sweeping and significant changes to the BC Securities Act which are intended to give the BC Securities Commission (BCSC) the strongest powers in the country to impose tougher consequences for wrongdoers.  The provincial government recently issued an order in council confirming that these changes will take effect on March 27.

The amendments not only broaden the types of misconduct the BCSC regulates, but provide for expanded powers to collect financial sanctions through enhanced abilities to freeze property and new powers to seize registered retirement savings … Continue Reading

Insider trading prosecutions may increase after Second Circuit decision lowered barriers to convict

The Second Circuit recently determined that the criminal securities fraud provisions that were enacted as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (Sarbanes-Oxley) have less onerous requirements for proving insider trading than under the general antifraud provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act), specifically Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act. Section 10(b) has been the traditional way for prosecutors to charge insider trading. Pursuant to Supreme Court rulings, an insider must breach a duty of confidentiality and receive a “personal benefit” in order to have engaged in the illegal tipping of material, non-public information to others. Similarly, … Continue Reading

White Collar Criminals Beware – BC strengthening Securities Commission investigation and enforcement powers

On October 21, 2019, the BC provincial government announced sweeping and significant changes to the BC Securities Act which are intended to give the BC Securities Commission (BCSC) the strongest powers in the country to impose tougher consequences for wrongdoers.

Bill 33-2019, the Securities Amendment Act, 2019, sets out over 100 proposed amendments, many of which are new to securities regulators in Canada.  These include:

  • expanding the BCSC’s investigative powers;
  • broader powers to collect financial sanctions when there are assets to collect, including enhancements to the current ability to freeze property and new measures, such as seizing
Continue Reading

Stung By Deceit: Re Natural Bee Works Apiaries Inc.

On July 3, 2019 the Ontario Securities Commission (“OSC”) released its decision in Re Natural Bee Works Apiaries Inc., 2019 ONSEC 23 (“Natural Bee”).   Natural Bee provides useful guidance concerning proof of falsity and participation in a fraudulent scheme under section 126.1(1) of the Ontario Securities Act (the “Act”).

Background

In Natural Bee, OSC Staff alleged that Natural Bee Works Apiaries Inc. (“NBW”), Rinaldo Landucci (“Landucci”), its sole director, and Tawlia Chickalo (“Chickalo”), an employee of NBW who was at one point identified as its President, … Continue Reading

Sino-Forest Cont’d: Cultural Practices do not Excuse Illegal Acts

In Hung et al v Ontario (Securities Commission), 2019 ONSC 3423, the Divisional Court dismissed an appeal brought by four senior officers of Sino-Forest Corporation (the Appellants) in one of Canada’s largest frauds in history.  The Appellants sought to set aside the decision on the merits of a panel of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) dated July 13, 2017 (Merits Decision), and set aside or amend the decision of a second Panel on sanctions dated July 9, 2018 (Sanctions Decision).  In the alternative, the Appellants sought to remit the matter back … Continue Reading

Imposition of OSC Sanctions Following a Conviction for an Offence Relating to Securities: The Availability of Carve-Outs in the Public Interest

In Theroux (Re), 2019 ONSEC 20 a hearing panel of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) was called upon to decide whether an individual convicted of five counts of fraud over $5,000 contrary to section 380(1)(a) of the Criminal Code should have the benefit of carve-outs from an order under section 127(10) of the Ontario Securities Act (Act) which would otherwise prohibit him from trading in securities and from being an officer or director of any company permanently.

Facts

Alain Theroux had pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice to five counts of fraud over … Continue Reading

US Tenth Circuit holds SEC can apply antifraud provisions extraterritorially in certain situations

One trend running through recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions is a sense of caution in expanding the scope of U.S. law to extraterritorial activities.  To that end, the Court has instructed that a statute does not apply extraterritorially unless the text clearly shows the U.S. Congress intended such a result.  Notably, the Tenth Circuit recently held that Congress has authorized the SEC to enforce the securities fraud laws extraterritorially in certain circumstances.  Foreign actors should take note of this potential expansion of the SEC’s enforcement powers.

One of the cornerstones — if not the cornerstone — in the Supreme Court’s … Continue Reading

Findings of Fraud Constitute “Other Good Reason” to Order Security for Costs

Hung v Ontario Securities Commission, 2018 ONSC 6729 (Div Ct)

The Divisional Court has released yet another chapter in the saga of one of the largest frauds in Canadian history.  In 2017, after a 188-day merits hearing, the Ontario Securities Commission (the Commission) released its decision concerning allegations of fraud against Sino-Forest Corporation (Sino-Forest) and its senior officers.  In that decision, the Appellants, as senior officers of Sino-Forest, were found to have authorized, permitted, or acquiesced in the company making misleading statements in its disclosure documents and to have misled Staff of the Commission during their … Continue Reading

Crime Doesn’t Pay: OSC Permanently Bans Convicted Fraudster

On November 26, 2018, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) issued an order permanently prohibiting Daniel Reeve, a financial planner based in the Kitchener, Ontario area, from participation in Ontario’s capital markets, including trading in any securities and becoming or acting as a registrant.

The permanent ban came after Reeve was convicted in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2017 for having defrauded at least 41 investors of nearly $10 million (see R v Reeve, 2018 ONSC 3744). Justice Skarcica found Reeve’s conduct to have “presented virtually every aggravating circumstances recognized by the Criminal Code and the … Continue Reading

Re Fauth: A Primer on ss. 75(1)(a), 92(4.1) and 93(b) of Alberta’s Securities Act

The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) recently released its decision in the matter of Re Fauth, finding the respondent, Vernon Ray Fauth (Fauth), in breach of ss. 75(1)(a), 92(4.1) and 93(b) of Alberta’s Securities Act, RSA 2000, c S-4 (the Act). The decision offers some important insight on issues regarding limitation periods, illegal dealing, misrepresentations, and fraud under the Act. The decision also discusses the use of hearsay evidence in proceedings before the Commission; specifically, the use of transcripts of witness interviews conducted by the Alberta Securities Commission Staff (Staff) in the … Continue Reading

DOJ provides additional insight on compliance and investigations matters

On October 25, 2018, John Cronan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ), delivered an important speech that touched on several key issues for legal and compliance counsel trying to balance business realities with regulator expectations, particularly with respect to compliance with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).[1] Of particular note, Cronan discussed:

  • The application of the DOJ’s FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy;
  • The DOJ’s expectations as to what constitutes full cooperation in the course of an investigation;
  • The use of coordinated resolutions; and
  • The recent update to the DOJ’s
Continue Reading

Even “Small Frauds” May Warrant the Imposition of Significant Sanctions by Securities Regulators

In Re Davis, 2018 BCSECCOM 284, the British Columbia Securities Commission upheld permanent market prohibitions against Mr. Davis who committed fraud on one investor in the aggregate amount of (only) $7,000.

Background

Mr. Davis, who was never registered under the Securities Act (B.C.), purported to sell shares that he did not own to an investor over a period of two years. Throughout that time, Davis continued to deceive the investor by providing false assurances regarding the status of the shares. Although the investor was successful in obtaining repayment of her $7,000 through court proceedings, the Commission, in its … Continue Reading

Ontario Court Imposes Custodial Sentence for Securities Act Offences

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has released what appears to be the final chapter in the Ontario Securities Commission’s (OSC) prosecution of Daniel Emerson Tiffin and Tiffin Financial Corporation.

Background

In July 2014, the Ontario Securities Commission’s administrative proceedings against Rezwealth Financial Services Inc., Pamela Ramoutar, Justin Ramoutar, Tiffin Financial Corporation, Daniel Tiffin, 2150129 Ontario Inc., Sylvan Blackett, 1778445 Ontario Inc. and Willoughby Smith, resulted in an order under s. 127 of the Securities Act (the Act) prohibiting Daniel Emerson Tiffin (Mr. Tiffin) and TFC from trading in securities or relying upon any exemption … Continue Reading

Stay of proceedings based on AMF failings in its disclosure of evidence : Baazov v. AMF, 2018 QCCQ 4449

In the recent decision Baazov v. AMF, Mascia J. of the Quebec Court, Criminal and Penal Chamber granted a stay of proceedings in respect of all tipping, insider trading and market manipulation charges laid against the accused based on the repeated failings of the prosecutor, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), the Quebec securities regulator, in its disclosure of evidence to the accused. The AMF has decided not to appeal the judgment, which is now final.

Background to the Decision

In March 2016, the AMF laid 23 penal charges against David Baazov, Benjamin Ahdoot, Yoel Altman and … Continue Reading

The Importance of Cooperation Among Interjurisdictional Securities Regulators: United States Securities and Exchange Commission v. Autorité des marchés financiers, 2018 QCCQ 4417

In the recent decision of United States Securities and Exchange Commission v. Autorité des marchés financiers, 2018 QCCQ 4417, the Quebec Court, Criminal and Penal Chamber held that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had the required interest under section 122 of the Code of penal procedure (CPP) to be allowed to examine materials seized by the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), the Quebec securities regulator, from persons under investigation. The CPP applies with respect to proceedings in view of imposing a penal (as opposed to criminal) sanction for an … Continue Reading

Ontario Securities Commission confirms test for severance

In a decision issued on July 24, 2018, the Ontario Securities Commission held that the test to determine whether a respondent’s case should be severed and heard separately is the same test used in criminal proceedings.

The decision, Hutchinson (Re), 2018 ONSEC 40, is available here.

Allegations of insider trading and insider tipping

The OSC commenced proceedings against four individuals alleging insider trading and insider tipping with respect to the securities of eight companies.

Commission staff alleged that Donna Hutchinson, a legal assistant at a law firm, provided material non-public information to her friend Cameron Edward Cornish regarding … Continue Reading

Copy and Paste Securities Fraud? The U.S. Supreme Court to Decide

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear a case where an investment banker copied and pasted misstatements from his boss into emails that, at his boss’s request, he sent to prospective debenture purchasers.  In Lorenzo v. Securities and Exchange Commission, 872 F.3d 578 (D.C. Cir. 2017), a divided United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that the investment banker was not the “maker” of the misstatements, but nevertheless affirmed the SEC’s determination that he committed securities fraud under a fraudulent scheme theory.  The Supreme Court will thus be faced with the … Continue Reading

New York Highest Court Imposes Three Year Limitations on State Attorney General Securities Actions

On June 12, 2018, New York’s highest court issued a ruling that a three year statute of limitations, not the six year statute applicable to fraud claims, applies to claims brought under New York’s Martin Act.  People v. Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, et al.  The Martin Act is the New York State Blue Sky law that gives the New York Attorney General broad authority to bring civil and criminal claims arising from fraudulent conduct in connection with the sale and purchase of securities.  While the claims thereunder overlap with those available under the U.S. federal securities laws, it has … Continue Reading

Parity in sentencing for insider trading: AMF v. Beauchamp, 2018 QCCQ 3604

In a recent decision, AMF v. Beauchamp, Délisle J. of the Quebec Court, Criminal and Penal Chamber, refused to follow the request of the Quebec securities regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), that a prison term be added to the sentence of an accused in an insider trading case.

Background to the Decision

Francis Beauchamp (Beauchamp) pleaded guilty to nine counts of insider trading. He had received privileged information (as defined in the Quebec Securities Act (QSA)) relating to four separate acquisitions from the spouse of the then assistant to the … Continue Reading

Still in Jeopardy: Supreme Court of Canada refuses leave to appeal BC Court of Appeal decision confirming that a Securities Commission financial penalty does not prevent being penalised in criminal fraud proceedings

This morning the Supreme Court of Canada refused leave to appeal[1] from the decision of the BC Court of Appeal in R. v. Samji[2], which confirms that the Charter does not preclude criminal proceedings where a defendant had already been ordered to pay penalties for fraud under the Securities Act.

Rashida Samji, a former licensed notary public, committed a $100 million fraud involving at least 200 investors through a Ponzi scheme she ran between 2003 and 2012. Proceedings were brought against her in front of both the BC Securities Commission (the Commission) and the BC … Continue Reading

Divisional Court confirms that interlocutory OSC orders not eligible for appeal, judicial review

In the recent decision of Cheng v Ontario Securities Commission, 2018 ONSC 2502, the Divisional Court held that an interlocutory order of the OSC was not subject to challenge through an appeal or judicial review.

Background

The OSC commenced enforcement proceedings against Benedict Cheng in April 2017 on allegations of insider tipping.  Cheng brought a preliminary motion seeking a stay of the proceeding or alternatively to exclude certain evidence during the hearing on the grounds of solicitor and client privilege.

OSC staff was in possession of the evidence of Mr. K, a lawyer.  Cheng alleged that he and Mr. … Continue Reading

OSC Panel Approves Settlement Agreement for Insider Tipping Without Profit Disgorgement or Administrative Penalty

The Ontario Securities Commission’s recent decision in Re Hutchinson confirmed the important role of cooperation with Commission Staff in reducing sanctions for breaches of Ontario’s securities law.

Background

Donna Hutchinson worked as a legal assistant at a large Toronto law firm, assisting with merger and acquisition transactions. Through the course of her work, Ms. Hutchinson routinely gained access to non-public, confidential information regarding certain transactions. Ms. Hutchinson was alleged to have knowingly provided non-public information about six transactions to Cameron Cornish, another respondent in the proceeding, in violation of section 76(2) of the Ontario Securities Act, which prohibits insider tipping.… Continue Reading

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