Tribunal suspends the certificates of François Baillargeon-Bouchard
Insurance Decisions and Freeze and cease trade orders Securities
Montréal – On January 28, 2021, further to a request filed by the Autorité des marchés financiers (“AMF”), the Financial Markets Administrative Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) suspended the certificates of François Baillargeon-Bouchard and issued other orders against him and the firm 9347-6760 Québec inc. (doing business as “Group financier Bouchard”).
Specifically, the Tribunal suspended, with immediate effect, the certificates held by Mr. Baillargeon-Bouchard in the insurance of persons and group savings plan brokerage sectors. The Tribunal ordered him to comply with the provisions of the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services (the “Act’’) and to cease acting as or purporting to be a representative within the meaning of the Act.
The Tribunal also ordered François Baillargeon-Bouchard to cease carrying on any activity, directly or indirectly, in respect of a transaction in securities within the meaning of the Securities Act, except for any transaction in securities carried out on his own behalf by a broker duly registered with the AMF.
In addition, the Tribunal ordered Groupe financier Bouchard, of which François Baillargeon-Bouchard was the majority shareholder and the sole director and officer, to appoint a responsible officer to replace Mr. Baillargeon-Bouchard, subject to the prior approval of the AMF. The firm must inform the AMF of the steps it intends to take to replace its responsible officer.
Lastly, the Tribunal ordered François Baillargeon-Bouchard and Groupe financier Bouchard to deliver to the AMF the original versions and any copies and updates, in any form whatsoever, of the client lists obtained from Mr. Jean-Loup Leullier Masse, or any other natural or legal person, containing the personal information of clients of the Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec (“Desjardins”).
The Tribunal specified that these orders are temporary and will remain in effect until modified or revoked by the Tribunal further to a party’s application, if deemed to be in the public interest, including following a final decision of the Disciplinary Committee of the Chambre de la sécurité financière (CSF) on the disciplinary complaint filed against Mr. Baillargeon-Bouchard.
During the AMF’s investigation and the hearing before the Tribunal, François Baillargeon-Bouchard admitted to having acquired lists of Desjardins clients in 2017 and used them until September 2019 to solicit the individuals on the lists for the purpose of selling them insurance products.
Since these lists may have been put together with information obtained illegally from Desjardins, the AMF launched an investigation to shed light on the matter. Before concluding its investigation, the AMF requested that the Tribunal temporarily prevent François Baillargeon-Bouchard from carrying out activities as a representative in insurance of persons and group savings plans. According to the AMF, there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that Mr. Baillargeon-Bouchard committed statutory offences and no longer has the required integrity or competence to continue his activities without compromising the protection of consumers.
The Tribunal was asked, as part of that hearing, to determine how or by whom the theft of Desjardins clients’ personal data had been committed, how long the theft had been going on or how the theft could have been prevented.
Moreover, the Tribunal did not have to find definitively that Mr. Baillargeon-Bouchard had or had not failed to comply with his legal obligations; rather, it had to determine whether the protection of the public warranted withdrawing Mr. Baillargeon-Bouchard’s right to practise while the investigation was still ongoing or until a decision was rendered by the Tribunal and/or the CSF’s Disciplinary Committee.
The Tribunal pointed out that “[translation] there is no evidence that the information contained in Desjardins’ client lists was used by Mr. Baillargeon-Bouchard for purposes other than for the sale of insurance products. There is no evidence directly linking Mr. Baillargeon-Bouchard to the Desjardins employee who is allegedly responsible for the data leak. It appears that Mr. Baillargeon-Bouchard used Desjardins’ client lists without ill intention for the purpose of offering clients better service.”
However, the Tribunal was of the opinion that it had sufficient evidence to conclude that Mr. Baillargeon-Bouchard’s integrity and competence had been affected and that the public interest demanded the immediate suspension of his certificates as well as the other provisional measures arising from that suspension.
The Autorité des marchés financiers is the regulatory and oversight body for Québec’s financial sector.
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