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RCMP's strategy a "good first step" – but not enough

Toronto criminal lawyer John Rosen says word that the RCMP is using a new strategy to target white-collar criminals is “a good first step, but it’s not nearly enough.” Read National Post  

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says the force’s Integrated Market Enforcement Team has been told to use more traditional police powers such as confidential informants, undercover operations and wiretaps to produce more criminal convictions.

But, Rosen, senior partner with Rosen Naster LLP, says that while he agrees with Paulson, “if they use traditional police techniques they’ll have some limited success, but they won’t curb the fundamentals of the problem, that being that the people they are dealing with are extremely smart and sophisticated … Investigators need to understand the intricacies of how the market works and be able to identify the root problem or scheme.”

Rosen says the average policeman is “not sufficiently trained to deal with that. You need people who understand securities law and corporate governance.”

In fact, Rosen says what is needed is “a Canadian version of the U.S. FBI and SEC – a federal agency dedicated to investigating frauds on a national or inter-provincial scale and doing it through the RCMP as it is currently structured is not satisfactory because of their internal issues and restrictive policies.

“The Americans discovered some time ago through experience that you can’t have police officers alone investigate complex frauds because they don’t have the education, and hiring outside professional consultants is too expensive,” says Rosen. “What you need are accountants and lawyers, either exclusively or at the very least as part of a team, in order to properly investigate these serious frauds. The government needs to change strategies and to spend the money needed to get the job done right. Otherwise, the economy will continue to lose billions to these various schemes.

Rosen notes it’s the more subtle cases that are at the crux of the problem. In addition to defending criminal cases, he and his firm also specialize in providing advice and crisis management services to victims of white-collar crime. They have developed a system for overseeing internal investigations that also preserves evidence and places the client in a position to interface with police agencies if the client chooses.

“In today’s world, police have the power but not the resources to investigate complicated white-collar crimes," says Rosen. "Victims need to ensure that a proper job is done first and then the police can build on that work to catch and punish the perpetrators. We oversee the investigation for the client, package up the results, take it to the authorities and say, ‘OK, we’ve gone as far as we can go because we don’t have the power to get production orders and so forth. Take our handiwork and go get the bad guys.’”

Rosen says Paulson’s announcement is a reflection of government beginning to deal with the problems associated with investigating and prosecuting serious white-collar crime. “These types of cases need to be dealt with in a more focused, comprehensive and timely way. Otherwise, the public and more importantly the business community will continue to lose confidence in law enforcement.”

Rosen says he “applauds” the RCMP for its new initiative, but he predicts a big bite won’t be taken out of white-collar crime in Canada until investigations are put into the hands of a specialized agency designed to handle such complex probes.

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