On February 27, the OSC announced awards of $7.5 million to three whistleblowers in connection with three separate matters. The awards are the first of their kind by a Canadian securities regulator. In a news release, the OSC said the awards were the result of the whistleblowers' "timely, specific and credible information, which helped advance enforcement actions resulting in monetary payments to the OSC."
The OSC's Whistleblower Program was launched in July 2016. The Program is meant to encourage individuals to report securities law violations by offering compensation of up to $5 million for tips that lead to enforcement action. Tips can be submitted by one or more individuals, and can be submitted anonymously through lawyers. The OSC has deemed the Whistleblower Program a "game changer" for the OSC's enforcement efforts.
Significantly, the OSC makes all reasonable efforts to protect the confidentiality of whistleblowers and will not disclose information that might reveal a whistleblower's identity – even to other regulators and law enforcement agencies. For that reason, in announcing the first round of compensation, the OSC included no information which would allow any party to identify the whistleblowers. Similarly, it is an offence under the Ontario Securities Act to take reprisal against an employee who reports, or plans to report, a potential violation of securities law.
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