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Ontario securities watchdog offers rewards of up to $5M for financial crime tips

Ontario's stock market regulator has unveiled what it says is Canada's first program to pay for tips from whistleblowers in the securities industry, offering up to $5 million to people whose tips lead to enforcement action.

Program is first such reward scheme at any Canadian securities regulator

The Ontario Securities Commission says it will pay up to $5 million to tipsters for successful enforcement actions.

Ontario's stock market regulator has unveiled what it says is Canada's first program to pay for tips from whistleblowers in the securities industry.

The head of the Ontario Securities Commission called the new program a "game changer."

"We expect it will significantly enhance our ability to protect investors and to ensure fairness in the market," said OSC chair and CEO Maureen Jensen said Thursday. 

If a whistleblower is eligible for an award under the program, the OSC said the compensation could be between five and 15 per cent of total monetary sanctions ordered and any voluntary payments made, up to a maximum of $1.5 million. 

However, the maximum award will increase up to $5 million if the sanctions ordered and voluntary payments top $10 million, and at least that much money has been collected by the regulator.

"We expect it to result in high-quality tips about insider trading, market manipulation, and accounting and disclosure matters," Jensen said. 

"These are sophisticated matters that can go undetected for long periods of time, and seriously cause harm to investors," she said.

Whistleblowers can report anonymously, and the OSC said it will make "all reasonable efforts" to protect the confidentiality of individuals who provide tips.  

Anti-reprisal provisions have been added to the province's securities legislation that will allow the OSC to also take enforcement action against employers who retaliate against whistleblowers and render any contractual provisions designed to silence a whistleblower as unenforceable.

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