Edmonton

Alberta Securities Commission will publish names of law-breaking companies

Alberta’s securities regulator is now making public the names of companies caught breaking securities laws, in an effort to inform investors and keep others within the rules.

135 companies now owe the comission more than $100M in fines, spokeswoman says

The commissions says the list may help investors pick up on red flags before trusting a company. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Alberta's securities regulator is now making public the names of companies caught breaking securities laws, in an effort to inform investors and keep others within the rules.

On its website, the agency will name and shame securities sellers who haven't paid fines for breaking the law, said Alison Trollope, spokeswoman for the Alberta Securities Commission.

Trollope said the hope is published list will make it easier for investors to research and find reputable companies.

"Knowing that they not only breached security laws but they also haven't paid those debts, [those] would both be important red flags to look out for," she said.

In total, the 135 companies owe the ASC more than $100 million in unpaid fines, for everything from misleading information, selling investments without being registered or outright fraud, Trollope said.

"There's a broad range of offences that are on this list."

Hear the full interview with Alison Trollope

Alberta is not the first to take this approach; both Ontario and British Columbia publish similar lists.

While she wasn't sure if it has meant a decline in unpaid fines in those provinces, Trollope believes the public shaming will be enough to keep some people honest.

She said it is an important tool to have, because it can often be difficult to collect the fines.

"By the time that security infractions come to light, the money is spent, it's been moved offshore," she said.  

"We will use every means possible to obtain these sanctions, but the fact of the matter is that quite often the money is gone."

The agency also hopes the list will make investors more alert to the types of fraudulent behaviour they might come across.

Particular signs to watch out for, she said, include promises of high returns with little risk, moving money overseas and being pressured to invest without time to do research.

The list is posted on the ASC website and will be updated quarterly.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now