Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court

British Columbia’s government is taking steps to strengthen enforcement and prevent fraud in B.C.’s investment markets, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James announced on Monday.

The province is introducing amendments to the Securities Act that will allow the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA) to enforce penalties as court orders against investment dealers who wrong investors.

The measures aim to improve the self-regulatory organizations’ (SROs) collection rates, particularly against individuals who can avoid fines against them by simply leaving the investment industry.

“The amendments introduced today will give IIROC and the MFDA the ability to file decisions directly with a court of law. Filing in court means that they will be able to pursue outstanding fines, and order a person to comply with decisions, made by these national self-regulatory organizations,” the B.C. finance ministry says in a news release.

Similar changes have already been adopted by other provinces. With the addition of B.C., Canada’s Big Four provinces have all empowered the industry SROs to improve their penalty collection rates.

“Many British Columbians invest their life savings in the securities market. They expect their money will be safe from fraudsters. We’re taking action to protect people who invest by giving self-regulatory organizations the tools they need to collect fines and deter fraudulent behaviour,” says James in a statement.

“Having better tools in our enforcement toolkit will enable us to hold wrongdoers accountable and provide British Columbians with greater confidence to invest. Being able to collect penalties through the courts will send a powerful message that if you harm investors you will pay the penalty,” adds Andrew Kriegler, president and CEO of IIROC, in a statement.