In a move to step up the fight against securities fraud, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) Integrated Market Enforcement Team (IMET) is set to shack up with the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC).
Police and regulators announced today that the Toronto branch of IMETs, an RCMP unit created to tackle major market fraud cases, is moving into a shared space with the OSC. The Toronto-area IMET already works closely with the OSC but this move is intended to further cement their collaboration and enhance their ability to carry out joint investigations.
Howard Wetston, OSC chair and chief executive officer, and Steve White, the RCMP’s commanding officer for Ontario, announced the move today in a shared news conference.
At the event, Wetston said the RCMP’s decision to co-locate is a “profound move” and a major step in their cooperative efforts to combat financial crime. He stressed the importance of face-to-face collaboration between their respective teams and noted that these sorts of cases cannot be investigated over email.
“It’s difficult work and we need to work very closely together,” said Wetston. “This will allow us to do that.”
The Toronto branch of the IMET program is the largest in the country, with 28 employees including both investigators and support staff, said White. In the past year, the RCMP has increased the number of personnel within IMET that are focusing on securities intelligence. It also created a financial intelligence team in an effort to “capture a wider spectrum” of possible capital markets related crime.
Wetston stressed that cooperation between the regulators and law enforcement gives the authorities the capability to investigate the full range of possible offences, from regulatory violations to quasi-criminal and criminal cases. By working with the police, regulators can also access investigative tools and techniques that would not otherwise be available to them under their regulatory authority alone.
At the same time, Wetston noted, the regulators are also working to expand their own enforcement toolkit, through measures such as no-contest settlements and the recently-proposed whistleblower program.
“We need to remind wrongdoers we’ve got a greater presence and a greater capacity to investigate and enforce the law. It’s ultimately about stronger outcomes, investor protection, greater deterrence, and enhanced confidence and trust in our markets,” he said.
The OSC and RCMP already operate an enforcement partnership, with the Ontario Provincial Police, known as the Joint Serious Offences Team (JSOT). The JSOT was created in 2013 to investigate serious breaches of securities law and to prosecute quasi-criminal cases in the Ontario Court of Justice. The JSOT partnership has produced 13 cases that are before the courts and another seven cases that are currently being investigated, according to statistics released today.
White said that the move to common space with the OSC will enhance what has already been accomplished with the JSOT partnership and bolster its ability to investigate criminal cases.
Working more closely together will improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of these efforts, he adds.