What is the ASC Whistleblower program?
The Whistleblower program was created to enable employees within companies to provide tips about securities-related misconduct without fear of reprisal and with heightened confidentiality protections. The objectives are to encourage compliance with the Securities Act (Alberta) and self-reporting of securities violations by market participants; and to encourage individuals to provide tips, knowing that protections exist for whistleblowers. The Office of the Whistleblower (OWB) is part of the Enforcement division at the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC).
Who is an eligible whistleblower?
A whistleblower is an employee who voluntarily provides information to the ASC about potential securities law wrongdoing by their employer. “Employee” is defined in the Securities Act (Alberta) and includes full-time employees, part-time employees, directors, contractors and, in some cases, individuals who work for affiliates. The potential wrongdoing may have already occurred, be ongoing or be about to occur.
One or more people are allowed to act as a whistleblower, but companies or organizations cannot qualify as whistleblowers.
What information should be submitted?
Information submitted about potential Securities Act (Alberta) violations should be as specific, credible, and as timely as possible to support effective enforcement action. Information should include:
- A description of the potential misconduct. This could be related to financial reporting, corporate disclosure, insider trading and tipping, fraud, unregistered trading and/or market manipulation.
- Names of individuals and/or company/companies involved in the misconduct.
- Dates the potential misconduct occurred or is about to occur.
- Additional information and/or supporting evidence (if available).
- Whether the whistleblower previously reported the tip to anyone else (for example, to an employer), and any resulting actions.
- The whistleblower’s name and contact information (unless tip is submitted anonymously).
- Confirmation that the information in the tip is true and accurate to the best of the whistleblower’s knowledge and belief.
The ASC does not have jurisdiction outside the scope or coverage of Alberta securities laws. In appropriate circumstances, the matter may be referred to another regulatory or law enforcement agency with the whistleblower’s consent.
How much information can be submitted?
You can submit as much supporting information as necessary. Supporting material, up to a maximum of 20 MB can be attached to an email submission. If the total size of your files is greater than 20 MB, you can submit the additional documents in another email(s). Please ensure any additional emails reference the original submission. You can also mail your submission and supporting material, either printed or on an electronic storage device such as a USB thumb drive.
If I work for a company that has an internal compliance process, can I report internally and also submit a whistleblower tip?
Yes, we encourage the use of internal processes. However, internal reporting is not required to submit a tip to the OWB.
How do I submit information under the ASC’s whistleblower program?
You can provide a tip directly to the OWB by submitting a Whistleblower Submission Form (Form A) located on www.albertasecurities.com detailing the potential misconduct. The more detailed and complete the form is, the more likely it will be investigated. The completed form can be downloaded and emailed or mailed to the OWB:
OWB – Confidential
Alberta Securities Commission
Suite 600, 250- 5th Street SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2P 0R4
You can alternatively call the OWB toll-free tip line (1-833-295-4387). The line will be staffed from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST/MDT. If you call outside of business hours or if OWB staff are unavailable, you may leave a confidential voicemail and a member of the OWB team will contact you.
Can I submit information anonymously?
Yes, anonymous tips will be accepted by the OWB. Anonymous tips can be provided directly or through a lawyer. However, anonymous tips may limit the ability of the ASC to thoroughly investigate a matter if insufficient information is provided or if follow up information from the whistleblower is required but the identity of the whistleblower is unknown.
If you have a lawyer representing you, have your lawyer complete and sign the Whistleblower Counsel Submission Form (Form B), omitting any information that may identify you.
Is my identity kept confidential?
Under the Securities Act (Alberta), a whistleblower’s identity, and any information that reasonably could be expected to reveal a whistleblower’s identity, is confidential. As well, this information can not be compelled to be provided under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Alberta).
The ASC will not share a whistleblower's identity, or information that could reasonably be expected to reveal the whistleblower's identity, with another regulator or law enforcement agency without the whistleblower's consent.
Even in ASC hearings or court trials, identifying information will remain confidential unless an ASC panel or a court deems the information necessary to demonstrate that a respondent or defendant has not committed the alleged misconduct, or the whistleblower consents to its disclosure.
Although whistleblowers will have their identity protected by ASC staff, this does not mean that they will be immune from having to provide documents, other information, or testimony if an investigation and/or a hearing proceeds.
What happens after I submit a tip?
Receipt of tips will be acknowledged via email, mail or phone (depending on your stated preference), generally within two business days of receiving the tip.
After the OWB receives a tip, it will collect and manage it in accordance with Alberta securities laws and the procedures of the OWB. All tips will be reviewed, although not all tips will result in investigations or other action. The OWB may request additional information from you if necessary to help with the investigation.
Any documents or items provided to the OWB as part of a tip will not be returned.
What can I do if my employer finds out I submitted a tip and retaliates against me?
The Securities Act (Alberta) expressly prohibits reprisals against an employee (or a relative of the employee) in response to actual or anticipated whistleblowing activity by the employee or a relative, or in response to cooperating, testifying or otherwise assisting in ASC investigations or proceedings as a whistleblower or a relative of the whistleblower. Examples of reprisal include dismissal from employment, demotion, or harassment, among others.
The ASC has the authority to take enforcement action if a reprisal occurs. Visit the OWB at www.albertasecurities.com to obtain a Whistleblower Reprisal Reporting Form. The Securities Act (Alberta) also enables whistleblowers to take legal action on their own if a reprisal occurs. For advice on these statutory provisions, you are advised to consult a lawyer.
Are financial rewards available to whistleblowers?
The ASC’s whistleblower program does not include a financial incentive for tips. After carefully assessing other national and international whistleblower programs, reviewing scholarly research and evaluating the evidence of effective program elements, the ASC developed a program that emphasizes strong legal protections for good-faith whistleblowers.
The market misconduct I suspect occurred prior to the launch of the program. Can I still be a whistleblower?
Yes, tips related to misconduct that has already occurred are welcome, provided that the misconduct occurred within the last six years as per the Securities Act (Alberta).
If I made a previous complaint that would now fall under the Whistleblower program, can the OWB pursue it?
A previous complaint made before the Whistleblower program was in operation cannot be re-submitted as a whistleblower complaint, since the statutory whistleblower protections only apply from the date the program came into effect.