Autorité des marchés financiers opens its doors


Montreal - This morning Yves Séguin, Québec's Minister of Finance, announced the official creation of Autorité des marchés financiers , the new regulatory body that will administer the supervision of Québec's financial sector as of Monday, February 2.

The Authority merges the Québec Securities Commission (CVMQ), the Financial Services Office (BSF), the Québec Deposit Insurance Board (RADQ), the Financial Services Compensation Fund (FISF) and the Inspector General of Financial Institutions (IGIF). This new body will have about 500 employees in Quebec City and Montreal.

As the Minister pointed out, markets have recently been rocked by major financial scandals. As a result, many regulatory authorities around the world are undergoing a restructuring process, to introduce more stringent controls and reduce the risk of fraud. "Québec too is ensuring greater vigilance, setting up a market regulation and regulatory organization that is better integrated and more efficient," said the Minister.

The Minister announced that he fully supports the objectives underlying the creation of the new body, namely facilitating matters for consumers with a one-window facility that processes their complaints, reducing the administrative burden on professionals in the financial sector, and eliminating the confusion about overlapping responsibilities at the various regulatory agencies.

Mr. Séguin also emphasized how important it is for companies seeking financing on stock markets to comply with the regulations, use sound management practices and engage in healthy governance . "Insider trading will be more constantly focused on. We will have additional resources in the field to conduct more stringent investigations and inspections, so that regulations are applied as concretely as possible.

The Minister also expressed concern about the illicit activities of certain stock-exchange listed companies, including the increasing number of firms with apparent links to money laundering in Canada. "A joint team of investigators will be set up with the Sûreté du Québec, so that investigations produce more results," he added.

Mr. Séguin took the opportunity to remind people about Québec's ongoing efforts in conjunction with the other provinces and territories to introduce a Canada-wide passport system. Work is underway to harmonize regulatory frameworks and practices, in order to facilitate the marketing of products and registration of professionals coast to coast.

Finally, the Minister announced that he is open to suggestions from Autorité des marchés financiers about how to improve consumer protection with more stringent regulations or better compensation for wronged investors.

Jean St-Gelais, the Authority's President and CEO, explained how the new body is organized. It has four regulatory directorates: Consumer Assistance and Compensation, Solvency, Distribution, and Securities Markets. Supporting them are three general directorates. Mr. St-Gelais also stressed the high calibre of the personnel from the different agencies forming the new body, with the following remarks: "We have outstanding supervisory and regulatory expertise in Québec; bringing all these professionals together in one organization is bound to create a synergy that further enhances Québec's regulatory framework."

He specified that one of the Authority's top priorities will be to introduce in the near future a single-window consumer assistance facility with a threefold mission: information and education, processing of complaints, and settling of disputes. The Authority will work hand in hand with the industry to set up these consumer services. Mr. Séguin and Mr. St-Gelais both expressed the hope that Québec's financial products and services industry will greet the new body positively, in a spirit of frank and open cooperation.

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Philippe Roy
Communications Director
Bureau de transition de l'encadrement du secteur financier
(514) 864-9716