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Meet our Enforcement staff

Andy Sze landscape

Andy Sze

After a decade of auditing corporate clients in Canada and Hong Kong, Andy Sze is helping put white collar criminals behind bars.

What do you do at the BCSC?

I use my accounting skills to investigate suspected investment-related violations of Canada’s Criminal Code and violations of the BC Securities Act that qualify for criminal prosecution. When I collect enough evidence of alleged criminal activity, I make a recommendation to Crown Counsel to prosecute.

How did you get into the securities enforcement field?

I worked as an auditor for two of the “Big Four” accounting firms, both in Canada and Hong Kong. The clients I worked with were mostly in financial services – banks and brokerages – as well as some publicly-listed companies in other industries, such as mining. As an auditor working with a client, I looked for discrepancies and irregularities, making sure their financial statements did not contain material errors. Usually those mistakes aren’t intentional. But we all know there are bad actors out there, doing things like insider trading and tipping. I wanted to root them out.

Were you surprised to see that a criminal investigations team had an opening for an accountant?

It’s true that a lot of criminal investigative work is aimed at crude, basic frauds – con artists who quietly rip off a victim here, a victim there, using nothing more than charm and simple lies. But the BC Securities Commission is looking to use criminal prosecution, when it’s warranted, to punish more complex cases of corporate malfeasance, including by publicly-traded companies. When I learned that, I saw how I might fit in. To go after that type of misconduct, you need to parse financial records, because that’s where a lot of the evidence lives. Most of my work focuses on the source and use of funds, and how that differs from what might have been promised to investors or reported to authorities.

How is investigating suspected criminals different from auditing corporate clients?

When I asked for records from my accounting clients, they didn’t feel as obligated to hand things over. Now that I’m a Peace Officer and able to use Production Orders, I get records much faster. On the other hand, I have to be so much more precise when I ask for those records. Use of Production Orders follows a very formal process, and has to be approved a judge or judicial justice. I can’t just casually ask a bank for “X, Y and maybe Z.” I need to specify exactly what I need and detail for a judge how those records will assist my investigation.

What has been the biggest challenge of the job?

Learning all the ins and outs of Canadian criminal law and procedure. There is an elaborate framework governing what you can and cannot do in the course of a criminal investigation, because the stakes are so high. So you have to make sure you’ve gotten everything just right – one seemingly small mistake can sink a case.