The CEO Poll: Crime and punishment | Managing | Strategy | Canadian Business Online: "The CEO Poll: Crime and punishment
From the December 24, 2007 issue of Canadian Business magazine
A federal judge in Chicago sentenced fallen media mogul Conrad Black to six and a half years in prison for fraud and obstruction of justice. He must also pay a fine of US$125,000 and forfeit US$6.1 million. Investors aren’t looking for Canadian courts to sentence white-collar criminals as severely as U.S. courts do, according to Michael Watson, director of enforcement at the Ontario Securities Commission. But the 137 Canadian CEOs polled in a survey conducted by Compas Inc. disagreed strongly with that belief.
The majority of business leaders surveyed want our securities regulators to catch fraudsters with greater regularity, and want Canadian courts to impose tougher sentences on white-collar criminals. Canada is no more compassionate than the U.S., the CEOs believe, and Canadians certainly wouldn’t complain if lengthier prison sentences were handed down. In a previous Compas poll, some respondents indicated that our weak securities laws also act as a deterrent to foreign investment. “We have world class companies and world class executives. It is a shame that we are considered an easy country [in which] to get away with fraud,” wrote one respondent.
The CEOs were also asked to grade the effectiveness of certain mechanisms in place for making Canada a safe haven for investors. Our securities laws in general received a grade of 57%, while the OSC received 53%. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission fared better with a score of 68%."