Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court

A hearing into the allegations of wrongdoing surrounding failed fund manager Bridging Finance Inc. will start in late June, Ontario’s Capital Markets Tribunal has ordered.

Following a hearing, the tribunal has set down its schedule for the Bridging case, starting with filings this month and next. Motions to stay the proceedings from two former Bridging executives, David and Natasha Sharpe, will be heard on May 23, 2023.

The stay motions will allege abuse of process by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) based on the fact that it didn’t seek an order to allow the disclosure of compelled evidence in court filings, which the Sharpes allege has tainted the regulator’s case against them.

According to the tribunal’s decision, the Sharpes will argue that it will be impossible for them to have a fair hearing into the OSC’s allegations against them, because “intended witnesses at that hearing had an opportunity to review the compelled evidence before they gave their own evidence as part of the investigation, thereby tainting their own testimony during the investigation and that they might give at the merits hearing.”

The tribunal accepted the Sharpes’ argument that their stay motions should be heard before the hearing into the OSC’s allegations, but rejected their contention that the stay motions should wait until a judicial review sought by David Sharpe of another decision by the tribunal (seeking confidentiality for the compelled evidence) is completed.

In agreeing to hear the stay motions before the merits hearing, the tribunal said that if the Sharpes are successful on those motions, that would avoid a lengthy, expensive hearing.

However, the tribunal rejected the claim that the merits hearing should wait until after the judicial review is complete because the issues raised in the judicial review “are insufficiently connected to this proceeding, and acceding to the Sharpes’ request would risk significantly delaying this proceeding.”

If the proceedings aren’t stayed as a result the Sharpes’ motions, the hearing into the OSC’s allegations would begin on June 26 next year, and be slated to run for a total of 35 hearing days at various times in June, September, and October, ending in mid-December, the tribunal ordered.