Hearing Panel of the Central Regional Council:
- Paul M. Moore, Chair
- Guenther W.K. Kleberg, Industry Representative
Brendan Forbes, Enforcement Counsel for the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada
Ashley Thomassen, Counsel for Respondent
Jessica Ann Miller, Respondent
- The Hearing Panel accepted the settlement agreement dated September 20, 2021 (“Settlement Agreement”) between the staff of the MFDA (“Staff”) and Jessica Ann Miller (“Respondent”) at an electronic settlement hearing held in accordance with MFDA rules for an electronic hearing.
- A copy of the Settlement Agreement is attached to these Reasons as Schedule “1”. The agreed facts are set out in section III of the Settlement Agreement.
- The Respondent admitted that:
- On December 16, 2013, the Respondent photocopied the signature page from an account form that had been signed by a client and re-used the signature page to complete 2 additional forms, contrary to MFDA Rule 2.1.1;
- between September 2013 and January 2019, the Respondent obtained, possessed and used to process transactions, 22 pre-signed account forms in respect of 18 clients, contrary to MFDA Rule 2.1.1; and
- between October 2013 and June 2015, the Respondent altered and used to process transactions, 3 account forms in respect of 3 clients, by altering the account forms without having the client initial the alterations, contrary to MFDA Rule 2.1.1.
- Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the Respondent:
- will pay a fine of $9,000; and
- will pay costs of $5,000.
- The Hearing Panel determined that it had to be satisfied regarding three considerations before it could accept the Settlement Agreement. First, the agreed penalties had to be within an acceptable range taking into account similar cases. Secondly, the agreed penalties had to be fair and reasonable (i.e. proportional to the seriousness of the contravention taking into consideration relevant circumstances) and should appear to be so to members of the public and industry. Thirdly, the agreed penalties should serve as a deterrent to the Respondent and to industry. To be satisfied on these three considerations required an understanding of the particular facts of the case, the circumstances of the Respondent, and the impact on the Respondent of the agreed penalties.
- The Hearing Panel determined that the alleged misconduct was in contravention of MFDA Rule 2.1.1.
Other considerations in determining acceptability of agreed penalties
- The Respondent has paid $14,000 to the Member to cover costs associated with the imposition of enhanced and close supervision by the Member.
- There was no evidence that the Respondent received any financial benefit from the conduct set out above beyond the commissions or fees she would ordinarily be entitled to receive had the transactions been carried out in the proper manner.
- There was no evidence of client complaints, client loss or lack of client authorization.
- The Respondent has not previously been the subject of MFDA disciplinary proceedings.
- By entering into this Settlement Agreement, the Respondent has saved the MFDA the time, resources, and expenses associated with conducting a full hearing on the allegations.
- The costs award is reasonable.
- The agreed penalties are within the recommendations of the MFDA Sanction Guidelines and the reasonable range of appropriateness with regard to MFDA decisions submitted to us by Staff and Respondent’s counsel, made by MFDA Hearing Panels in similar circumstances. They are fair and reasonable and will serve as a specific and general deterrent.
- We concluded that the Settlement Agreement was in the public interest and, consequently, we accepted it.
Paul M. MoorePaul M. MooreChair
Guenther W.K. KlebergGuenther W.K. KlebergIndustry Representative