03/02/2015 01:11 EST | Updated 05/02/2015 05:59 EDT

RCMP financial crime unit moving in with Ontario Securities Commission

TORONTO - A Toronto-based RCMP contingent of white collar crime investigators is moving in to the offices of the Ontario Securities Commission, a move intended to help the two agencies to work together more closely.

The Integrated Market Enforcement Team was launched by the RCMP in 2003 to investigate major fraud cases and protect the integrity of the country's stock markets. The unit consists of teams in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.

The Toronto branch of the Integrated Market Enforcement Team already works with the OSC, but moving the two agencies under one roof is expected to strengthen that partnership.

"The goal is to bring all of our collective resources, skills and expertise together in one location," RCMP assistant commissioner Stephen White told reporters Monday.

All 28 of the Toronto unit's full-time staff are expected to be moved in to the OSC's headquarters by April 1.

Having both organizations working in the same building will make it easier for them to review cases together to determine whether they fall within the RCMP's mandate, the OSC's mandate or require a joint investigation, said White.

In Quebec, the RCMP's team of financial crime investigators already shares an office with the province's securities regulator.

White said he is unsure whether IMET's teams in Alberta and British Columbia have plans to move in to their provincial regulators' offices.

OSC chairman Howard Wetston said working with the RCMP is vital because the police force has a number of powers that the securities regulator does not.

"Through the RCMP we have access to tools and resources that we would not otherwise have," Wetston said.

That includes the power to make an arrest, go undercover or issue a search warrant.

"At the same time we bring skills and expertise to the RCMP," he added. "As the largest securities regulator in Canada with the largest enforcement branch, we have our eyes and ears to the street."

The Ontario Securities Commission also announced Tuesday that it launched 22 proceedings in 2014, down from 27 the previous year.

A total of 91 proceedings against individuals and companies were concluded during the year, including four court cases, two of which led to individuals being sentenced to jail time.