Legal experts hope first remediation agreement under Criminal Code will lead to more

Nearly four years after the federal government added deferred prosecution agreements to the Criminal Code as part of its arsenal to fight corruption and other white-collar crime, legal experts hope that guidance provided by Quebec Superior Court in Canada’s first ever remediation agreement will prompt federal prosecutors and organizations to take advantage of the new way of settling criminal charges.

The comprehensive, meticulous and “important” decision introduces a “welcome” degree of certainty to the new process in the absence of accompanying regulations, guidelines or policies in the remediation agreement regime, according to legal experts. The ruling by Quebec Superior Court Justice Éric Downs sheds light on how remediation agreements will be broached by the courts, indicating that while they will not act as a “rubber stamp” in reviewing proposed settlements, the agreements will be afforded a high degree of deference, added the experts. The judgment also signals that self-reporting, though not a “hard condition,” will carry considerable weight as does “strong cooperation” to help sway the courts to sanction the agreement, they added.

“It’s an important decision because there were question marks around how the courts would approach the approval of a remediation agreement and how involved they would be in the process,” noted Louis-Martin O’Neill, a Montreal M&A and securities litigator with Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP. “The Court was very mindful of the fact that there is a huge need for stability in the system, and that implies that when a corporation starts to negotiate with the prosecution for a remediation agreement it has to know that unless something very grave happens, that agreement should stick when presented to the court.”

Continue reading “Legal experts hope first remediation agreement under Criminal Code will lead to more”

Quebec court applies Jordan ceilings to white collar crime

A Quebec man accused of tax evasion by provincial tax authorities won an “important” legal battle after the Court of Quebec applied the landmark Jordan ruling and ordered a stay of proceedings and charges.

The decision affirms that the principles set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Jordan, 2016 SCC 27, [2016] 1 applies to white collar crimes, clarifies the notion of “complexity of the case,” underlines that the prosecution must analyze the evidence and develop a “concrete management and trial plan” before laying charges, and it may even prompt Revenu Quebec to review its procedures, according to tax lawyers. The ruling also suggests that the Covid-19 pandemic is not in itself sufficient grounds to justify delay, without examining other factors.

Continue reading “Quebec court applies Jordan ceilings to white collar crime”

Do jail sentences deter future white-collar crimes?

The courts appear to have heard calls from victims of white-collar crime demanding stiffer sentences against those found guilty of swindling investors.

In October 2009, Vincent Lacroix, a high-profile Quebec white-collar criminal found guilty of masterminding a $130-million fraud with 9,200 victims, was sentenced to 13 years in jail. A little over a year later, in February 2010, former Montreal financial adviser Earl Jones was sentenced to 11 years in prison, after pleading guilty to two fraud charges related to a $50-million Ponzi scheme he orchestrated.

But an accounting professor who published a study on occupational fraud is far from convinced that stiff jail sentences on white-collar criminals will prove to be an effective deterrent.

Continue reading “Do jail sentences deter future white-collar crimes?”