Businessman Blowing Whistle Isolated on White Background

Bay Street has long complained about abusive short selling in the Canadian markets, prompting a plea for whistleblower tips from the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).

In joint guidance issued today, the OSC and IIROC are calling for tips on potentially abusive trading, such as market manipulation, illegal insider trading and particularly abusive short selling.

The regulators said that they “have reason to believe that certain market participants may be engaged in abusive short selling”, particularly in advance of public offerings or private placements.

The guidance stresses that tips don’t need to come from traders or brokerage firm employees.

“Anyone with first-hand knowledge or other specific and credible evidence about short selling into or ahead of public offerings or private placements of Ontario securities is strongly encouraged to submit a tip,” they said.

They also specifically called on small-cap issuers that are seeing abusive trading to report it.

The OSC’s whistleblower program offers financial rewards, up to $5 million, for tips that lead to successful enforcement action.

While IIROC has its own whistleblower program, the guidance noted that it may refer tipsters to also report to the OSC’s program, making them eligible for a possible financial award.