Investors Scrutinizing the Regulators

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AMF favours status quo on securities regulation
Existing model enhances consumer protection, says Quebec regulator

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

By James Langton

In its submission to the Expert Panel on Securities Regulation, the Autorité des marchés financiers argues for maintaining the status quo rather than moving to a single regulator.

It concludes that “current securities regulation in Canada is adequate in light of the specific features of the Canadian market.”

“Canada operates a small securities market made up of firms located across a vast territory with needs that vary significantly from region to region and which, for the most part, are financed locally. Against this backdrop, a system of provincial and territorial regulators serves as the most appropriate framework model, as regulators are able to identify and respond more effectively to the specific needs of firms in their jurisdictions, while striving to harmonize securities regulations and processes,” it says. The AMF also suggests that the existing provincial model enhances consumer protection. “Since securities operations are often local in nature, the proximity of regulators to local markets facilitates the detection of fraudulent practices,” it says.

Moreover it maintains that arguments in favour of a federal regulator “are unconvincing and do not justify the proposed changes in the current regulatory structure.”

The AMF also notes that federal government criticism of the country’s securities industry is “tarnishing the industry’s reputation abroad and is generally undermining Canada’s economic interests.”

It calls on the federal government to help authorities provide more effective deterrence of fraud. “Close co-operation between the federal government and the provinces in this regard is essential. RCMP operations and enforcement of the Criminal Code are the responsibility of the federal government. As such, the federal government is in a position to take concrete action in support of provincial securities regulation within its jurisdiction, without the need to create a single securities regulator,” it says.

The AMF says it believes that federal and provincial authorities should work closely together to: raise awareness about the importance of white-collar crime; enhance the effectiveness of investigation teams, particularly the RCMP’s Integrated Market Enforcement Teams; and, improve the tools available to investigation teams.