Court overturns BCSC’s asset freezing decisions

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“The appellants assert that the commission took an overly broad view of its discretion, acting without sufficiently taking into account the factors that should restrict the exercise of its power to freeze assets,” the court said in its decision.

“The commission considers that it has a broad discretionary power which is not restricted by any factor other than the public interest, which it considers largely through the prism of the protection of the investing public”, indicates the decision.

Two of the appeals, which involved BridgeMark Financial Corp. et al., were upheld, with the court ruling that the BCSC “erred in determining that the asset freeze order could stand where the investigative order and the evidence did not raise an issue. serious issue that the owners of assets had committed breaches of the law that could result in financial consequences against them.

The court also found that the commission had mistakenly placed the responsibility on the respondents in the case, “forcing them to establish with certainty that no violation of the [Securities Act] will be alleged or proven in the future.

The court concluded that the onus should be on the regulator to establish that an asset freeze order should stand.

In the third case, however, the court dismissed the appeal, ruling that “the board rightly considered that there was evidence that the appellants had committed serious breaches … which could result in financial penalties.”

The court also found that the BCSC had correctly considered the relevant public interest factors and that it had not made the same error in placing the onus on the respondents to establish that no violation could be made. proven.

In one of the two cases where an appeal was allowed, the court overturned the freezing order imposed by the commission. But the court referred the other case to the BCSC, noting that the regulator is now raising new allegations against the respondents in that case.

“It is not clear whether there is new evidence, or whether the executive director, faced with these calls, has now tried to articulate a way in which previously known evidence supports claims that these parties have broken the law. “, said the court.


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