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OSC awards whistleblower $300K for tips about regulatory violations

Market regulator has awarded over $10M since program's inception in 2016

The Bay Street Financial District is shown with the Canadian flag in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The OSC says the whistleblower's "seniority, knowledge and experience" gave them actionable intelligence that ultimately resulted in a firm rectifying its regulatory issue. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette) (The Canadian Press)

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has awarded a whistleblower $300,000 for “significant and detailed information” revealing that a company wasn’t following its regulatory obligations.

The OSC, which regulates Ontario's capital markets, says the whistleblower’s "seniority, knowledge and experience" gave them a level of detail that permitted them to "ensure the firm took measures to rectify" the problem.

“Some misconduct can be difficult to detect without intelligence from those within a firm,” Leslie Byberg, the OSC’s interim executive vice-president for enforcement, said in a statement. “This individual’s actions directly identified a complex issue that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.”

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The reward follows an award of $1.5 million in late February to an insider whistleblower who provided “very specific and discreet non-public information” to the OSC that allowed them to widen an investigation and ultimately act to “protect investors from harm.”

The OSC established its whistleblower program in 2016. Since then, it has granted more than $10 million in awards to people who provide information about potential violations of Ontario securities law.

In February 2019, the OSC gave out $7.5 million in awards to three whistleblowers who gave information about unrelated cases. “These individuals voluntarily provided high-quality, timely, specific and credible information, which helped advance enforcement actions resulting in monetary payments to the OSC,” the commission said at the time.

In 2021, the OSC said whistleblower tips had “resulted in monetary sanctions and voluntary payments of approximately $44 million.”

Beyond the amount of an award and a broad sense of the activity, the OSC keeps details such as a firm’s identity and the specific nature of any violations confidential. The intent of the program — to allow people with knowledge of illegal activities like insider trading, “abusive short selling” or violations of corporate disclosure rules to report them without fear of being exposed — means whistleblowers’ identities are protected.

John MacFarlane is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jmacf. Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.