News Release

Michael Francis O’Brien's appeal to ASC from IIROC disciplinary decision allowed in part

Oct 19, 2020

CALGARY – The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) allowed, in part, Michael Francis O'Brien's appeal from a disciplinary decision made against him by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).

An IIROC hearing panel found that in 2017, while O'Brien was registered as a financial advisor with RBC Dominion Securities Inc., he contravened IIROC rules by borrowing more than $156,000 from an elderly client, and by making misleading statements about the loan and the surrounding circumstances during investigations conducted by IIROC and RBC's fraud detection group.

The IIROC panel held that O’Brien engaged in business conduct that was unbecoming and detrimental to the public interest, made misleading representations, and failed to act in a candid and forthcoming manner during the investigations. It ordered that O'Brien: 

  • be suspended from registration with any IIROC dealer member firm for two years,
  • pay a fine of $100,000 and costs of $20,000,
  • rewrite and pass the Conduct and Practices Handbook examination following the conclusion of the two-year suspension period, and
  • be subject to strict supervision for the first 18 months following his re-entry to the investment industry.

O’Brien appealed the decision to the ASC, which has oversight over self-regulatory organizations such as IIROC under the Securities Act (Alberta).

An ASC panel clarified the standard of review applicable to appeals from self-regulatory organizations, and found that with some exceptions, the IIROC panel did not err in its findings.

In its decision, the ASC panel noted that, “as participants in an industry that is highly regulated in order to protect the public interest, Registered Representatives' interactions with their dealer members' compliance personnel, their regulator, and counterparty financial institutions are an integral part of their ordinary business conduct.”

The ASC panel upheld the IIROC orders against O'Brien with the following modifications:

  • the suspension was reduced from two years to nine months commencing March 26, 2020, and
  • the fine was reduced from $100,000 to $50,000.

A copy of the decision is available on the ASC website at

The ASC is the regulatory agency responsible for administering the province's securities laws. It is entrusted to foster a fair and efficient capital market in Alberta and to protect investors.  As a member of the Canadian Securities Administrators, the ASC works to improve, coordinate and harmonize the regulation of Canada's capital markets.


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Theresa Schroder
Senior Advisor, Communications

ASC Public Inquiries
Toll Free: 1-877-355-4488