The British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) is joining the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) in offering financial rewards for enforcement tips.

The BCSC is now paying between $1,000 and $500,000 for tips that “meaningfully contribute” to investment fraud investigations and to uncovering other forms of serious market misconduct that results in successful enforcement action.

“Often, people who break the law in the investment market or evade our sanctions can’t do it without others noticing,” said Brenda Leong, chair and CEO of the BCSC, in a release.

“The BCSC always encourages people to report suspicious activity, and we think these awards provide an added incentive for people to contact us and provide information that will help make our market more honest and fair.”

The size of whistleblower rewards will be determined by the regulator’s executive director, based on several factors including the value of the information to the investigation, the degree of ongoing whistleblower cooperation, and the severity of the misconduct.

“The more valuable your information is, the more we may pay you,” Leong said.

Whistleblower tips can be submitted anonymously or through a lawyer, but tipsters’ identities will have to be revealed to receive an award.

“The Office of the Whistleblower will only share your information and identity inside the BCSC on a need-to-know basis,” the regulator said, such as when it’s legally required to share information.

The regulator added that it’s not providing “any guarantee or assurance of confidential informer privilege.”

Prospective tipsters who are not eligible for awards include regulatory and law enforcement personnel; tips that include false, misleading or illegally acquired information; and tips from violators that only involve their own wrongdoing.

The OSC was the first Canadian regulator to launch a whistleblower program, back in 2016, modelled on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) program.

The OSC’s program pays rewards of up to $5 million for tips that lead to successful enforcement action. Between 2016 and 2022, it paid out $9.3 million in awards to 11 whistleblowers, resulting in enforcement actions that generated approximately $48 million in monetary sanctions and voluntary payments ordered against 19 respondents.