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Ontario proposal to pay corporate whistleblowers up to $1.5M inadequate: lawyer

TORONTO - A class-action lawyer says an Ontario proposal to pay whistleblowers up to $1.5 million to call out financial fraud is inadequate.Dimitri Lascaris says the reward amount proposed by the Ontario Securities Commission is insufficient to compensate corporate tipsters for the risks they would bear.Lascaris spoke before a roundtable today in Toronto held by the Ontario Securities Commission, which has proposed a program that would reward people to report incidents of financial fraud, insider trading and market manipulation.If implemented, the program would be the first of its kind for Canadian securities regulators.The provincial securities watchdog has modelled the program after the one at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has received more than 10,000 tips since it was introduced in 2011 and has led to some large payouts.The Ontario Securities Commission would offer smaller rewards than its U.S. counterpart, with payments capped at $1.5 million.The securities regulator says that while it will strive to protect the identities of whistleblowers, there are a number of exceptions under which it may need to reveal them — for example, if it is necessary in order for commission staff to make a case against an accused, or if an accused needs to know a whistleblower's identity in order to defend him or herself fully against the allegations.But the regulator is proposing introducing anti-retaliation measures into the provincial Securities Act to protect whistleblowers from harm if their identities do become revealed.Follow @alexposadzki on Twitter.

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