The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) has released its enforcement report for 2015. Quebec's securities regulator imposed $8,742,876 in fines and other penalties on 141 individuals and firms for various offences last year.

The AMF notes that it obtained a number of large, court-ordered sanctions in 2015, including a six-month prison term and a $419,220 fine for Alain Côté who defrauded 27 investors of about $400,000 in a scheme in which he promised investors returns of about 10% a year. Côté’s company ACGI was also fined $382,000 for illegal distributions. In addition, the Quebec court imposed a fine of $1,000,000 on Jacques Rancourt and Guylain Pelletier whose illegal distribution of shares in Véhicules Nemo caused investors to lose $420,000.

Illegal distributions

Of all charges made last year, illegal distributions were the most common category of offence; the AMF notes that it was the most active regulator in Canada in this area, bringing 19 lawsuits against 47 individuals and firms and completing 38 lawsuits against 87 individuals and firms. The regulator was also active in cases of market manipulation and illegal insider trading, with six filed lawsuits against 21 individuals and firms, and eight completed lawsuits against 12 individuals and firms.

Devastating impact on victims

"We are more determined than ever to ensure that those who violate the laws we administer are sanctioned. They significantly erode the confidence that is fundamental to effective market operations, and their behaviour cannot be tolerated," comments AMF president and CEO Louis Morisset. "Illegal distributions, fraud and misappropriation of funds are all examples of serious offences that must be severely sanctioned, as their impact on victims is often devastating."