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The BC government introduced legislative amendments to the Securities Act (British Columbia) to improve the BC Securities Commission’s (the BCSC) ability to collect penalties as well as improve enforcement of white-collar investment offences. Bill 33, which lists the legislative amendments, was introduced to the legislative assembly on October 22, 2019 and had its first reading. The second reading is scheduled for the legislative assembly’s next sitting.

Some of the key amendments will give the BCSC increased power to freeze and seize property transferred to third parties for below market value, seize registered retirement savings plans, and prevent offenders from renewing driver’s licences and plates until fines are paid.

To improve enforcement, the province is increasing maximum fines and jail terms for repeat offenders of “significant” offences. Another amendment sees the ability of the BCSC to order administrative penalties without a hearing for violations of regulations or decisions. A further amendment gives BCSC investigators greater powers to obtain information.

Once Bill 33 is passed into law, time will tell whether amendments will be effective in assisting the BCSC to collect penalties and improve enforcement. One thing is certain: defence lawyers will certainly mount constitutional challenges to some of these amendments.