B.C. Court of Appeal says bankruptcy can’t erase millions in monetary sanctions
Vancouver – The province’s highest court has ruled that a couple will continue to owe millions of dollars to the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) even if they are discharged from bankruptcy.
The three-judge panel of the B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from Thalbinder Singh Poonian and Shailu Poonian, a B.C. couple who have been ordered to pay $19 million for committing market manipulation. They have not paid any portion of these sanctions.
The BCSC successfully argued in the B.C. Supreme Court that its sanctions should not be erased by bankruptcy, as they were exempt under bankruptcy laws. The Poonians appealed that decision.
The Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision and maintained that the BCSC’s sanctions were exempt from bankruptcy because they resulted from the couple’s fraudulent conduct. The sanctions will therefore remain even if the Poonians exit bankruptcy proceedings.
A BCSC panel issued sanctions in 2015 after it found that the Poonians had manipulated the share price of OSE Corp., an Ontario company who shares traded on the TSX Venture Exchange. The panel concluded that the Poonians inflated the share price through trading among themselves, relatives, friends and acquaintances, and then illegally obtained approximately $7 million by selling OSE shares to unsuspecting buyers.
They were ordered to pay $13.5 million in administrative penalties, and a combined $5.5 million disgorgement of their ill-gotten gains.
Any funds paid to satisfy the $5.5 million disgorgement order will be given to investors who lost money in the Poonians’ scheme.
About the British Columbia Securities Commission (www.bcsc.bc.ca)
The British Columbia Securities Commission is the independent provincial government agency responsible for regulating capital markets in British Columbia through the administration of the Securities Act. Our mission is to protect and promote the public interest by fostering:
- A securities market that is fair and warrants public confidence
- A dynamic and competitive securities industry that provides investment opportunities and access to capital
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