Fighting fraud in Canada

An interview with Irwin Cotler, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada


By Dick Carozza

Irwin Cotler, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, has a passion for protecting the rights of others - including those citizens hurt by corporate fraud and securities violations.  

Attorney Irwin Cotler, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, is known throughout the globe for his human rights advocacy and international law expertise. He served as counsel to former political prisoners Andrei Sakharov, Nelson Mandela, and Natan Sharansky. Sharansky, who was imprisoned in the Soviet gulag for Jewish activism, went on to become Israeli deputy prime minister. But back home in Canada, Cotler is just as committed to protecting citizens from the ravages of fraud.

"We have seen a growing concern in both (Canada and the United States) with large-scale corporate fraud and securities violations - offences that seriously undermine confidence in capital markets and also jeopardize the savings and investments of individual Canadians," says Cotler.

Under Cotler's leadership, Canada has emphasized a renewed fight against fraud with more forceful legislation, "Integrated Market Enforcement Teams," and continued cross-border efforts.

Cotler spoke to Fraud Magazine from his office in Ottawa.

The first question is a three-parter: What are the frauds that are increasing in Canada? Are they similar or different than the United States? And are there different factors that affect the incidence of those frauds than those in the States or the rest of the world?We have seen a growing concern in both countries with large-scale corporate fraud and securities violations - offences that seriously undermine confidence in capital markets and also jeopardize the savings and investments of individual Canadians. Both countries have been compelled to address the problem with new legislation and other strategies. Fraud is also a crime that is evolving with technology, and we have to ensure that our ability to combat it also continues to evolve. Many fraud offences - telemarketing fraud is a good example - are often cross-border in nature, so we need to improve our understanding of how fraud occurs in other countries. This is why we have supported the UN resolution that calls for a global study of fraud and why we have provided funding and offered Canadian expertise in this area.

In the wake of large U.S. corporate scandals, the federal government of Canada and the provinces have taken steps (see sidebar article on page 40) to improve the framework governing Canada's capital markets. In your view, what are some of the major steps implemented and how can they be used to protect public markets and private citizens? What other legislation is still needed?
Large-scale capital market fraud can only be effectively addressed through a combination of criminal law, regulation, and even voluntary compliance measures. For example, federal Criminal Code provisions dealing with insider trading can complement regulations at the provincial level and the efforts of such key organizations as the Ontario Securities Commission.

Within my department specifically, we based our approach to capital markets fraud on four pillars: a legal framework to establish appropriate sanctions; dedicated teams of investigators with specialized knowledge of financial markets; a stronger capacity to prosecute offences; and, appropriate sentencing of perpetrators of corporate and securities fraud. These principles guided the amendments we proposed in Bill C-13, which have now become law.

 

 

 


For full access to story, members may sign in here.

Not a member? Click here to Join Now. Or Click here to sign up for a FREE TRIAL.


 Your Rating:
Your Review:
  
Reviews