From the Regulators

18-month jail sentence establishes a deterrent to others

By James Langton |

The Quebec Superior Court (Criminal and Penal Division) has dismissed an appeal by a lawyer convicted of numerous securities violations in an illegal distribution case.

Jean-Pierre Desmarais was ordered to spend 18 months in jail and was fined $170,000 after he was convicted of 34 securities law violations by a Court of Quebec judge in connection with an alleged illegal distribution scheme.

According to a translation of the Superior Court's decision, Desmarais appealed his sentence, arguing that that the jail term is excessive.

However, the Superior Court sided with the trial judge in the case, ruling that she did not err in principle in arriving at her sentencing decision, and that she properly emphasized the need to establish a deterrent to others.

The Superior Court acknowledged that the penalties imposed in the case are severe, but ruled that they are not obviously excessive, given the facts of the case. In particular, the Superior Court noted that Desmarais was a lawyer, who participated in a complex scheme that ran over a relatively long period of time, and caused investors to "suffer significant capital losses."

"These extremely serious elements, which are likely to undermine public confidence in the financial markets and those who legitimately trade in securities, justify the imposition of a significant prison sentence," the Superior Court states, in dismissing the appeal and upholding the sentence.