Future OSC chair steps down from hearing panel
Ahead of assuming his new role as acting chair and CEO of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), current vice-chair, Grant Vingoe has stepped down from a hearing panel reviewing the facts of the matter in the case of Issam El-Bouji.
The decision was made after it was determined that Vingoe’s promotion “may give rise to the apprehension of bias.”
“The prevailing practice at the commission has been for the chair of the commission not to adjudicate due to the chair’s scope of responsibilities which includes management of staff,” the OSC writes in its reasons for the decision. “Members of the commission shall not participate in a hearing where to do so would give rise to bias.”
In its decision, the OSC says it considered establishing an “ethical wall” such that the vice chair would not interact with staff involved in the hearing. The commission also considered accelerating the proceedings so the hearing could be concluded before April 15 when Vingoe assumes his new role. The respondent in the case argued that Vingoe should instead cease participating in hearings, and objected to Vingoe’s continued participation either by accelerating hearing dates or by establishing an ethical wall.
“The panel concluded that vice chair Vingoe should not continue to participate in the merits hearing,” the OSC writes. “There is a short transition period before vice chair Vingoe will be assuming his new responsibilities as acting chair of the commission and there is the expectation that, in the meantime, he will be participating in meetings related to management functions as a transitional matter and to ensure continuity. In these circumstances, absent consent of the parties, a reasonable and informed person may perceive that vice chair Vingoe has a bias in favour of staff, with who he will interact as acting chair and CEO in the near future. As such, it is necessary for vice chair Vingoe to cease participating as a panel member in this proceeding.”
The OSC says the merits in this proceeding will instead be considered by a two-person panel going forward.