A couple of weeks after an agreement in principle was reached in the Norbourg class action suit, opening the door for thousands of investors to recover nearly all the money they lost in one of the biggest investment frauds in the country, Quebec’s securities regulator is facing an expensive legal tab.
The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) has incurred $12 million in legal expenses to defend itself in the Norbourg scandal, according to a French-language television network. The law firm Heenan Blaikie ostensibly charged $9.275 million.
Over the past five years, five government bodies hired the services of private-sector lawyers at a cost of $51.9 million. Investissement Quebec spent $1.2 million, utility giant Hydro-Quebec $9.2 million, the Société générale de financement $9.8 million, the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec $15.4 million — and the AMF $16.4 million.
Marc Lajoie, head of the Association des juristes de l’État (AJE), a union representing nearly 1,000 lawyers, notaries, and other legal professionals now on strike, does not understand.
“If they don’t have the money for prosecutors and government lawyers, then they surely don’t have the means to reach out to the private sector to hire people for cases,” Lajoie told me recently. “All we’re asking is that our salaries be pegged to the Canadian average.”