The future acting chair of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), Grant Vingoe, is stepping away from an ongoing enforcement proceeding to avoid the risk of biasing the case.
An OSC hearing panel released a decision indicating that Vingoe, who will take over as acting chair of the OSC on April 15, will no longer serve on the hearing panel that is adjudicating a disciplinary proceeding against Issam El-Bouji, the former CEO of Global RESP.
El-Bouji is accused of violating the terms of a settlement with the commission. Those allegations have not been proven.
The hearing against El-Bouji began in January, and is set to conclude in late April, after Vingoe takes over as acting chair of the OSC.
Vingoe, who is currently a vice-chair of the OSC, was tapped to become acting chair and CEO of the commission when current chair Maureen Jensen announced plans to leave her post early.
“Vice-chair Vingoe determined that these circumstances may give rise to the apprehension of bias in the current proceeding,” the decision noted.
The chair of the OSC typically doesn’t serve on disciplinary hearing panels because of their role leading the regulator’s staff.
To accommodate the fact that Vingoe is set to become chair during the case, “Staff was prepared to accelerate the hearing dates to complete the merits hearing before April 15 or to utilize an ethical wall after that date to address any apprehension of bias,” the OSC noted.
However, El-Bouji objected to either fast-forwarding the case or establishing a mechanism to guard against bias.
Ultimately, the panel concluded that Vingoe should not continue to participate in the hearing.
“There is a short transition period before vice-chair Vingoe will be assuming his new responsibilities as acting chair of the commission and there is the expectation that, in the meantime, he will be participating in meetings related to management functions as a transitional matter and to ensure continuity,” the OSC panel said in its decision.
“In these circumstances, absent consent of the parties, a reasonable and informed person may perceive that vice-chair Vingoe has a bias in favour of staff, with whom he will interact as acting chair and CEO in the near future.”
The case will now continue with a two-person panel presiding over the proceedings.