06/27/2012 12:13 EDT | Updated 08/27/2012 05:12 EDT

Securities commission doing a poor job collecting fines, say critics

The Alberta Securities Commission may have levied record fines over the past few years for people who've broken investment rules — but critics charge that the ASC is doing a poor job collecting those fines.

Alberta investors have lost millions in illegal deals, including Jim Crowder and his wife who lost thousands with a company shut down for breaking securities laws.

"I've got all the general correspondence connected with it, too,” says 65-year old Crowder, as he digs through a stack of papers — a reminder of an investment gone bad and a retirement put on hold.

"It destroys everything that we've worked for.”

Hundreds of people lost money and company directors were fined millions, but collecting is another matter according to Canadian investor advocate Ermanno Pascutto.

"Clearly, we have a problem with collection of fines and securities regulation,” says Pascutto.

The Alberta Securities Commission has only collected 50 per cent of fines levied over the past five years.

Nationally, that number is at 35 per cent.

Critics say those fined can simply declare bankruptcy or hide money.

Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner says he sympathizes with the victims, but says the system is still a strong deterrent.

Crowder, however, disagrees. He’s warning buyers to beware.

"There are so many people that are hurt on an even deeper level than us and nobody cares."