I was interviewed by The Montreal Gazette yesterday in connection with the 12-year sentence handed down to Vincent Lacroix, the former head of Norbourg Asset Management. He was convicted of swindling more than 9,000 investors out of some $115 million over five years. It is one of the stiffest jail terms of its kind in Canada, which has been receiving a lot of criticism in recent years, including on these pages, for its lackluster approach to fighting boardroom crime.
Here’s some of what the story noted in today’s Gazette:
The head of a think-tank dedicated to raising standards of ethics, transparency and accountability in major corporations and public institutions agreed. A sentence of this size might begin the long process of restoring Canada’s reputation when it comes to fighting white-collar crime,” said J. Richard Finlay of the Centre for Corporate & Public Governance. Long jail time tends to get the attention of potential fraudsters,” he said from headquarters in Toronto. “It also gives some confidence to investors that somebody is looking out for them and making sure that the law means something – even when it reaches into the boardroom.
Maybe all of Canada’s white-collar criminals should be tried in Quebec. They’ve gotten off pretty lightly in the rest of Canada. Indeed, David Wilson, head of the Ontario Securities Commission, has boasted that Canada takes a more compassionate approach to dealing with criminal conduct.
Fortunately, Quebec authorities haven’t received this memo yet.