Thursday 13th August 2020

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Posts tagged ‘B.C. Securities Commission’

CSA issues report card on resource estimate disclosure

June 5th, 2020

by Greg Klein | June 5, 2020

CSA issues report card on resource estimate methodology

Projects involving precious metals and B.C.-headquartered
companies predominated among the 86 deposits under scrutiny.
(Chart: Canadian Securities Administrators)

 

How well do early-stage explorers reveal the technical data and economic assumptions behind their 43-101 resource estimates? A review by the Canadian Securities Administrators found their technical reports generally satisfactory, although often lacking in data verification as well as discussions of economic prospects and cutoff grades.

Completed in late 2018 but not reported until June 4, the study examined 86 technical reports. As a result, 10 were sent back to the issuers to be amended and re-filed. Six of those were cited for inadequate disclosure and the other four required revisions to their resource estimates. Conducting the study were seven staffers from securities commissions in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

CSA issues report card on resource estimate methodology

The review looked at 33 aspects of seven broad issues of disclosure: the QP’s experience; data verification; mineralogical controls and geological model; data analysis; resource estimation and classification; reasonable economic prospect of eventual mining; and reporting sensitivities, risks and uncertainties.

Among problematic areas was data verification, a vital issue concerning results from previous operators. The study found the process inadequate for recent data in over 20% of reports, and over 30% for historic data.

In several cases economic prospects were stymied by insufficient info regarding metallurgy, costs, prices and restraints. Reporting of overall sensitivity and risks was another issue of concern, especially where companies used boilerplate language instead of discussing risks specific to their projects.

Cutoff grades didn’t always have the base case emphasized, the study found, and not all cutoff grades came with a necessary discussion of reasonable economic prospects.

But the study found good work too. “Despite some deficiencies, many technical reports provided detailed and useful information on geological constraints applied to the estimate, and on statistical treatment of the data.”

“Robust technical reports are essential to disclosure at key project development stages,” noted Louis Morisset, CSA chairperson and president/CEO of l’Autorité des marchés financiers. “Our intention for publishing this guidance in the current environment is to support mining issuers in preparing their resource estimates, and to reinforce the importance of technical reports that are transparent and comply with disclosure requirements and industry best practices.”

As part of their ongoing disclosure review, securities commissions staff “will pay special attention to [mineral resource estimates] and the areas of inadequate disclosure identified,” the report added.

Download the CSA Review of Mineral Resource Estimates in Technical Reports.

Brenda Leong of the B.C. Securities Commission welcomes an extensive overhaul of the province’s Securities Act

April 24th, 2020

…Read more

“Unprecedented” new powers coming to the B.C. Securities Commission

March 10th, 2020

by Greg Klein | March 10, 2020

Fraudsters should find British Columbia a less attractive place to do business as tougher new regulatory measures take hold. The most extensive Securities Act overhaul since B.C. enacted the legislation in 1996 brings over a hundred new measures to broaden and strengthen powers of the B.C. Securities Commission. Taking effect March 27, the revised act expands the types of misconduct the BCSC regulates, enhances its ability to freeze assets, strengthens its power to collect sanctions and imposes stronger penalties for misconduct. Some of the measures will be unique to B.C.

“Unprecedented” new powers coming to the B.C. Securities Commission

Calling it “a new era of investor protection in this province,” BCSC CEO/chairperson Brenda Leong said, “These changes give us powerful new tools to help us collect money from wrongdoers and return funds to victims.”

Among new powers that are unprecedented in Canada are mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain types of fraud, heavier penalties for certain types of misconduct, new prohibitions on false or misleading statements and tighter rules regarding promotional activities, the commission stated.

BCSC staff will gain new powers of investigation and enforcement. In addition to mandatory minimums, scammers face maximum penalties increased to $5 million in fines and five years in prison. They’ll find it harder to evade enforcement by moving assets out of the province or transferring them to third parties. RRSPs are now included among assets the commission can seize. The agency can also prevent miscreants from getting vehicle plates or renewing driver’s licences.

Promoters will face sanctions for omission of important details, as well as for false or misleading statements.

Victims should find a greater likelihood of compensation not only with enhanced enforcement but a more flexible claims process. Whistleblowers will get protection against retribution.

The amendments also introduce a regimen for derivatives and benchmarks that will be harmonized with some other Canadian jurisdictions.   

The enforcement powers in particular may have been motivated by a series of stories by Postmedia journalist Gordon Hoekstra. In 2017 he reported several cases of sanctions remaining unenforced despite significant assets held by wrongdoers. Over the previous decade the BCSC collected less than 2% of $510 million in fines and payback orders, while the Ontario Securities Commission enforced about 18% of its penalties, Hoekstra wrote.

“Immediately after the Postmedia investigation, the BCSC filed at least 10 writs of seizure and sale in B.C. Supreme Court for financial fraudsters owing nearly $70 million in penalties, and renewed three enforcement orders,” Hoekstra reported in June 2018. “Also following the investigation, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James ordered the BCSC to improve its collection record and called for new tools and modernization of the Securities Act to improve collection.”

OSC promotes financial literacy, BCSC to get new powers of investigation and enforcement

November 1st, 2019

by Greg Klein | November 1, 2019

That “sociopathic securities regulator,” as Conrad Black called it, has new programs scheduled to help protect investors from, well, other sociopaths. The Ontario Securities Commission will present in-person, online and over-the-phone events throughout November to mark Financial Literacy Month.

People need the tools to make informed financial decisions, and through our financial literacy and investor education activities we’re helping millions of people get smarter about money.—Tyler Fleming,
Ontario Securities Commission

Among them are community seminars, a November 19 telephone town hall, a multilingual website expanded with 16 more languages, a video series, further editions of Investor News and additional resources on the OSC’s consumer website GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.

“Improving people’s financial knowledge, skills, confidence and behaviour is a key area of focus of the OSC,” said the commission’s Tyler Fleming. “People need the tools to make informed financial decisions, and through our financial literacy and investor education activities we’re helping millions of people get smarter about money.”

Late last month the British Columbia Securities Commission joined the provincial government to announce “sweeping changes” that would give the BCSC “some of the strongest powers in the country.” The proposed legislation would be the first significant amendments of the province’s Securities Act since 2011 and the most extensive since the act became law in 1996.

The new measures would boost maximum fines and prison terms, with minimum sentences applied to some repeat offenders. In some cases the BCSC could impose fines without a hearing. The commission would also gain stronger investigative powers.

OSC promotes financial literacy, BCSC to get new powers of investigation and enforcement

Other measures would allow the BCSC to seize property transferred to third parties, prevent fraudsters from getting a driver’s licence or vehicle plates, and seize registered retirement savings plans.

The commission would also gain stronger control over derivatives trading and corporate transactions.

“B.C. is setting the bar high when it comes to protecting people’s investments,” said Ermanno Pascutto of the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights. “These amendments to improve fine collection rates are some of the most far-reaching in Canada and align with international best practice. We are pleased that the B.C. government and the BCSC will make it a priority to return funds to victims of investment fraud.”

The stronger measures apparently respond to a series of 2017 stories by Postmedia journalist Gordon Hoekstra detailing several cases of unenforced sanctions despite scammers holding significant assets. Over the previous decade the BCSC collected less than 2% of $510 million in fines and payback orders while the OSC enforced about 18% of its penalties, he reported.

“Immediately after the Postmedia investigation, the BCSC filed at least 10 writs of seizure and sale in B.C. Supreme Court for financial fraudsters owing nearly $70 million in penalties, and renewed three enforcement orders, “ Hoekstra wrote in June 2018. “Also following the investigation, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James ordered the BCSC to improve its collection record and called for new tools and modernization of the Securities Act to improve collection.”

Pamela McDonald of the B.C. Securities Commission points out some common signs of investment fraud

April 15th, 2019

…Read more

Canadian investors remain at risk despite awareness of fraudulent tactics: BCSC

March 6th, 2019

by Greg Klein | March 6, 2019

The scamster’s quickest way to a mark’s wallet might be through the victim’s family and friends. Out of six warning signs of investment fraud, a new poll finds, being encouraged to invest because friends and family have already done so fools the most Canadians.

Conducted for the B.C. Securities Commission, the online survey questioned 2,915 Canadians, including 1,407 in B.C. In the lowest score of awareness, only 61% of B.C. respondents and 55% nationally recognized the family and friends ruse, among the half-dozen gambits that also included:

Canadian investors remain at risk despite awareness of fraudulent tactics: BCSC

  • Guaranteed high returns with little or no risk

  • Moving money outside the country to avoid tax

  • A strong push to act now

  • An offer of inside information

  • An offer available only to a select few

The most widely recognized ruse was guaranteed high returns, spotted by 77% in B.C. and 74% in Canada overall. Only 44% of British Columbians and 40% of Canadians overall caught all six.

“But one missed sign is sometimes all it takes for someone to be victimized,” pointed out BCSC director of communications and education Pamela McDonald.

British Columbians scored slightly better than the national results, but also admitted to a slightly greater tendency to getting ripped off. Twelve percent of B.C. respondents said they’d been conned, compared with 10% nationally. Oddly enough, another 12% (B.C.) and 10% (Canada-wide) said they didn’t know whether they’d been swindled.

Scam losses amounted to $5,000 or more for 40% (B.C.) and 45% (Canada-wide). But British Columbians expressed marginally less insecurity, with 44% conceding they were as likely as anyone else to get scammed, compared with 45% nationally.

The closest affinity between B.C. and nation-wide results came with responses to a statement that “reporting a fraudulent investment is more trouble than it’s worth.” In both groups, only 16% agreed.

“We are encouraged to see that most people are willing to report investment fraud, rather than just letting it go,” said BCSC director of enforcement Doug Muir. “Our investigators need the public’s help. The sooner we know about scams, the better our chances of preventing further losses.”

The BCSC accepts tips at 604.899.6854, 800.373,6393, inquiries@bcsc.bc.ca and via online form.

Read more about the fraud-awareness survey.

Learn more about fraud awareness.

Related:

Cross-country events mark Investor Education Month

October 2nd, 2018

by Greg Klein | October 2, 2018

Following the ounce-of-prevention principle, securities commissions across Canada plan a number of initiatives to encourage smarter, safer investment strategies. A month of events begins with World Investor Week, in which Canadian regulators join the International Organization of Securities Commissions from October 1 to 7. Here’s an outline of this country’s events from province to province.

British Columbia
The B.C. Securities Commission will release new research on millennials this month, along with new tools to help people understand their investment returns. The BCSC also plans design updates to InvestRight.org to improve its efficacy.

Cross-country events mark Investor Education Month

Alberta
A digital education campaign called Spot the Odd will raise awareness of the Alberta Securities Commission’s free resources as well as encourage financial literacy and fraud awareness. A number of activities across the province will include Don’t Get Tricked, to be held in Calgary on October 17.  The ASC provides other resources on CheckFirst.ca.  

Saskatchewan
The province’s Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority has a cryptocurrency awareness campaign slated for Facebook, Twitter, the FCAA website and YouTube. In addition, businesses planning to use cryptocurrencies are invited to discuss their project with the FCAA to learn whether it falls under securities legislation.

Manitoba
The Manitoba Securities Commission will formally launch MoneySmartManitoba.ca to promote financial literacy and planning. The MSC will also take to the Twittersphere with news, tips and strategies for investors.

Ontario
The Ontario Securities Commission plans social media chats on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #IEM2018. The OSC also hosts GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca, plans a telephone townhall for October 10, presents public events around the province with OSC in the Community and further encourages awareness through an investor newsletter.

Participating in World Investor Week helps promote investor education and protection both locally and globally.—Tyler Fleming,
Ontario Securities Commission

Quebec
L’Autorité des marchés financiers will release results of its fourth Financial Awareness Index, measuring the public’s knowledge and use of financial products and services. The AMF will also present the third edition of its Talking Money in Class! contest for high school teachers and take part in the Quebec Seniors’ Fair.

New Brunswick
The Financial and Consumer Services Commission will present online info with special emphasis on initial coin offerings. For more tips on fraud, investors may visit fcnb.ca and follow the commission on Facebook and Twitter. The Fortune online trivia game allows investors to compete with others across the province to learn more and win prizes.

In addition to all that, the Canadian Securities Administrators umbrella group offers its own online tools and resources. The CSA invites the public to take advantage of Investor Education Month and World Investor Week by following @CSA_News on Twitter and @CSA.ACVM on Facebook.

Read: Regulators emphasize innovation and deterrence as financial sanctions fail.

Follow the money, distantly

July 13th, 2018

Regulators emphasize innovation and deterrence as financial sanctions fail

by Greg Klein

It was a momentous week for Canadian regulators, seemingly. In a ruling on “one of the largest corporate frauds in Canadian history,” the Ontario Securities Commission slammed Sino-Forest scamsters with over $81 million in sanctions. One day later the Canadian Securities Administrators announced a nationwide total last year of nearly $70 million in penalties and a roughly equal amount in payback orders. All that sounds impressive, but a troubling question remains: How much—or, more accurately, how little—will ever be collected?

Regulators emphasize innovation and deterrence as financial sanctions fail

TSX-listed Sino-Forest’s 2012 crash wiped out $6 billion of investors’ money. Six years of OSC reviews expanded on short seller Muddy Waters’ exposé to conclude that “the complexity, scale and duration of the fraud are simply stunning.”

This week the commission imposed disgorgements, penalties and costs on a quartet of Chinese executives totalling $81.4 million, with Gang of Four ringleader Allen Chan responsible for $67.3 million.

In a sense, the OSC showed leniency. “We do not generally apply our penalties to each misstatement or instance of fraudulent conduct occurring even over an extended period of time, as here,” the commission stated. “If that approach were taken, the sanctions sought by staff would be multiplied many times.”

But whether the amounts could be higher would seem a moot point without collection. In an e-mailed response to ResourceClips.com inquiries, OSC public affairs manager Kristen Rose stated: “In addition to the challenges inherent in collecting sanctions generally, there is added difficulty in matters where respondents are outside of North America, and there is uncertainty as to whether there are recoverable assets. That said, as with any such matter, the OSC will make every effort to identify recoverable assets.”

In addition to the challenges inherent in collecting sanctions generally, there is added difficulty in matters where respondents are outside of North America, and there is uncertainty as to whether there are recoverable assets. That said, as with any such matter, the OSC will make every effort to identify recoverable assets.—Kristen Rose,
OSC public affairs manager

She added that Chan faces a civil judgement of US$2.6 billion, as well as a class action suit. Wronged investors would get priority over OSC penalties.

This week’s annual enforcement report from the CSA—the umbrella group for securities commissions in 13 jurisdictions—shows $69.4 million in penalties imposed nationwide during the last calendar year, along with another $68.6 million in restitution, compensation and disgorgement orders.

The report doesn’t say how much was collected. CSA chairperson Louis Morisset doesn’t have the figures either, not even for previous years. But he emphasizes that collection efforts continue.

“Those sanctions don’t always align with a person or company’s ability to pay,” he tells ResourceClips.com. “I can certainly assure you that we’re deploying all efforts to collect those monetary sanctions.”

Among the barriers to collection are bankruptcy, competing claims, lack of recoverable assets or offshore residence.

Nevertheless the performance of securities commissions, especially in British Columbia and Ontario, has come under media scrutiny. Beginning late last year, a series of Postmedia stories by Gordon Hoekstra detailed several cases of B.C. Securities Commission sanctions remaining unenforced, despite offenders holding significant assets. Over the last decade the BCSC collected less than 2% of $510 million in fines and payback orders, while the OSC enforced about 18% of its penalties, Hoekstra found.

In December Globe and Mail reporters Grant Robertson and Tom Cardoso released their study of 30 years of regulatory records, finding scams with higher dollar values than the resulting penalties, which often went unenforced anyway.

Morisset declined to comment on the stories, referring only to a December CSA statement that took issue with some aspects of the G&M reports and emphasized the role of police in financial crime investigations.

Still, media coverage seemed to make an impact.

“Immediately after the Postmedia investigation, the BCSC filed at least 10 writs of seizure and sale in B.C. Supreme Court for financial fraudsters owing nearly $70 million in penalties, and renewed three enforcement orders,” Hoekstra reported last month. “Also following the investigation, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James ordered the BCSC to improve its collection record and called for new tools and modernization of the Securities Act to improve collection.”

Regulators emphasize innovation and deterrence as financial sanctions fail

CSA chairperson Louis Morisset:
“There is an array of means and we’re deploying
everything available in the circumstances
to ensure deterrence.” (Photo: CSA)

As the CSA report shows, regulators don’t just go after money. Last year courts handed out prison terms totalling 33 years for offences under provincial securities legislation, with sentences for the 17 individuals ranging from 30 days to five years. Criminal Code cases handled by regulators brought eight sentences totalling 14 years.

Six of the jailbirds were repeat offenders. But a low overall recidivism rate of about 4% shows the power of deterrence, Morisset says. And, regardless of whether it’s responding to media criticism about enforcement, the CSA emphasizes the importance of deterrence.

It’s “also achieved by other means like revoking, suspending or imposing restrictions on registration, imposing bans, freezing accounts,” explains Morisset. “There is an array of means and we’re deploying everything available in the circumstances to ensure deterrence.”

Last month the OSC stated its two-year-old whistleblower program brought 11 no-contest settlements, returning more than $368 million to investors.

Beyond that the CSA plays up its “innovative” approaches, to binary options for example. In addition to a public awareness campaign, the group approached Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple, Visa and MasterCard. “We made them aware of the issues surrounding binary options and that they were used to a certain extent to facilitate fraud, and I think our approach was very innovative and effective in preventing fraudsters from reaching their targets,” says Morisset.

Also innovative was an outright ban on binary options. “It was the first time in Canada that we banned a product, giving a very strong message that these are toxic products.”

He says new approaches to fraud could expand the pool of potential victims, drawing in millennials with little or no investment experience. CSA publicity campaigns encourage awareness of the cryptocurrency world.

Through its Regulatory Sandbox, the CSA tries to streamline the entry of innovative fintech firms into the regulatory world. The CSA’s new Market Analysis Platform will use updated surveillance technology to monitor manipulation and insider trading. Canada’s first Pump and Dump Summit, held in Calgary last September, brought together four Canadian securities commissions and the RCMP, along with the U.S. SEC and FBI. Across Canada and abroad, inter-jurisdictional collaboration helps regulators join forces, says Morisset.

“We are innovative and we have to be, because the markets are innovative.”

But when the regulators fail, others might step in—with fraudsters on one side and, on the other, maybe opportunistic vigilantes like Muddy Waters.

B.C. Securities Commission executive director Peter Brady says the agency’s proposed fee hikes would spur enforcement

May 31st, 2018

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Have your say on the BCSC’s proposed fee hikes

May 1st, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 1, 2018

Some hefty cost increases now seem likely for British Columbia’s investment industry, but the B.C. Securities Commission’s giving participants a chance to comment. These would be the first such raises since 1994, according to the agency, which says it “funds its operations entirely from fees paid by market participants and receives no government or taxpayer funding.” Written comments will be accepted up to May 31.

“People need to have confidence that securities markets are being regulated appropriately,” said executive director Peter Brady. “With increased funding, the BCSC can expand its work on critical regulatory priorities, including hiring significantly more criminal investigators.”

Late last year a series of articles by Postmedia journalist Gordon Hoekstra slammed the commission for lax enforcement against serial scammers and others with unpaid fines but substantial assets. The BCSC has a staff of 234 and a budget of $46.6 million, Hoekstra reported.

Apart from beefing up enforcement and fine collection, a bigger budget would help address “regulatory challenges” including new marketplaces, rapid fintech innovation, increased cyber risk, increased private market capital raising and over-the-counter derivatives regulation, the BCSC stated.

Possibly reflecting a newly found frugality, the BCSC got through this year’s Fraud Awareness Month without producing a music video, as the agency did in 2017 and 2016.

Click here to see BCSC staff salaries for fiscal year 2014 to 2015.