Quebec’s Autorité des marchés financiers has secured a cease trade order against numerous firms and individuals suspected of being involved in an RRSP scam.

At the request of the AMF, the Bureau de décision et de révision en valeurs mobilières (BDRVM) issued an order on December 7 prohibiting 16 individuals and seven firms from pursuing activities as securities advisors and from carrying out any securities transactions. It also froze the funds, securities and other assets held by these firms and individuals.

The regulator says that the decision is related to an investigation, undertaken by the RCMP’s Integrated Market Enforcement Team. “The evidence presented by the AMF shows that the respondents developed schemes to defraud investors of their savings, typically retirement funds,” it reports.

The AMF says that investors were solicited, primarily through classified ads offering financial assistance to retirement account holders.

“They were encouraged to transfer a portion of their savings into a self-directed brokerage account and hand over management of the account to some of the respondents. In exchange, they would receive an immediate cash payment equal to a determined percentage of their savings. As part of these organized activities, the price of different securities was subsequently manipulated for profit, to the detriment of the investors,” it alleges.

These allegations have not been proven. Nevertheless, the AMF reports that the BDRVM says in its decision that it was particularly about the fact that none of the accused are registered with the AMF, and that one of them is already under a cease trade order and has penal charges pending against him for violating the Securities Act.