From the Regulators

IIROC looks to the courts to boost its collection rate in Ontario

By James Langton |

While Canadian regulators often struggle to collect monetary penalties and disgorgement ordered against securities law violators, regulators in the United Kingdom are turning to the courts to impose jail time on offenders that don't pay.

The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced on Tuesday that a man who admitted to running a Ponzi scheme has been ordered by a U.K. court to spend another two years in prison after he failed to pay an outstanding confiscation order against him for £165,731 ($315,500).

Phillip Boakes was sentenced to 730 days' imprisonment for failing to satisfy the full value of a confiscation order that was handed down in November 2015. He had until Feb. 2 to pay, but the order remains unpaid, the FCA reports.

The sentence imposed today is in addition to the 10 years in prison that Boakes received in March 2015 after pleading guilty to two counts of fraudulent trading, three counts of forgery, and one count of illegally accepting deposits. The charges stemmed from a purported foreign exchange trading scheme that allegedly defrauded investors of at least £3.5 million ($6.7 million).

Although most of that money taken from investors was spent or lost in unsuccessful trading, the FCA says the confiscation order represented the value of tainted gifts that he gave to others. Even after having serving the additional jail time, Boakes will continue to be liable for the outstanding debt, the FCA notes.

"The FCA welcomes the court's decision today.  Wrongdoers should not be able to retain the benefits of their wrongdoing," says Mark Steward, director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, in a statement. "The FCA will continue to ensure orders to strip wrongdoers of their ill-gotten gains are enforced and not ignored or evaded."

Earlier this year, Andrew Kriegler, the president and CEO of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), raised the issue of collecting regulatory fines during pre-budget consultations in Ontario. Kriegler reported that IIROC's collection rate for fines owed by individuals is less than 20% across Canada, and that it has collected only about 2% of the fines imposed in Ontario in the current fiscal year.

See: IIROC seeks greater enforcement powers in Ontario

Similarly, the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) reported that it collected approximately 16% of the sanctions it ordered in 2015. And, earlier this year, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) reported that provincial securities commission levied almost $250 million in monetary penalties and disgorgement in 2015. While the CSA did not report its collection rate, it admitted that it can be difficult to collect these fines.

IIROC notes that its collection rates are much higher in Alberta and Quebec, where it is able to pursue collections through the courts. The self-regulatory organization is seeking similar powers in Ontario, which would allow it to enforce hearing panel judgments through the courts. However, the recent budget in Ontario did not propose legislative changes to facilitate greater collections.