AMHERST – An Amherst town councilor has been reprimanded by the Nova Scotia Securities Commission and ordered to pay an administrative penalty of $7,500 for continuing to trade in mutual funds after his licence had expired.
Vince Byrne, who was elected to town council in October 2016, was registered as a mutual fund salesman from 1992 to 2013. After his retirement, his registration with the commission ceased, but Byrne continued to manage Scotia iTrade accounts for clients, effecting numerous trades in equities and mutual funds.
The commission said in a news release that Byrne admitted to violations of securities laws, and accepted responsibility for his conduct and was cooperative with commission staff.
The commission approved the settlement agreement and ordered Byrne to comply with Nova Scotia securities laws; cease trading in securities beneficially owned by anyone other than himself, with the exception of three people, for three years.
He is also denied use of exemptions contained in Nova Scotia securities law for 10 years; is prohibited from becoming or acting as a director or officer of any issuer, registrant or investment fund manager for five years and is subject to terms and conditions of close supervision and monthly reporting be imposed upon any grant of registration for five years from the date registration is granted.
The Nova Scotia Securities Commission is the provincial government agency responsible for regulating trading in securities in the province.
Byrne said in a statement that he was in dialog with the commission for 15 months about the advisory relationship he enjoyed with some of his friends.
“The issued identified by the commission arose partly from the nature of my friendships, partly from how I conducted my small business, and partly because of my familiarity with business issues my friends sometimes mysterious,” Byrne said. “I have acknowledged that I should have been registered as an advisor under the Nova Scotia Securities Act for some of the advisory services I provided to these friends.”
Byrne said at no time was there an assertion by the commission or his friends that there had been any financial risk, disadvantage, jeopardy or loss by any of his friends.
None of the concerns relating to the commission impacted his responsibilities as a town councilor and there are “no residual obligations as a result of the commission’s orders that will have an ongoing impact on my ability to continue to fully perform all the functions and responsibilities as a town councilor.”
The settlement does not impact Byrne’s status on Amherst council. Byrne stepped away from his duties with the town’s audit committee and turned down an appointment to the police commission after the commission issued a cease trade order against him in late 2016.
Amherst Mayor David Kogon said Byrne remains a member of town council, but he will not take part in either the audit committee or police commission until it gets a legal opinion.
“The two sanctions during the investigation were he couldn’t be on the audit committee and couldn’t serve on the police commission. We’re going to put the question to our lawyer, not just legally what we could do but a recommendation what we should do,” Kogon said. “We’re not changing anything right now.”
Kogon said no process exists in Nova Scotia in which a sitting member of council can be removed from their seat by a vote of council.
Under the Municipal Elections Act, a person who is convicted of an indictable offence punishable by imprisonment for a maximum of more than five years ceases to be a councilor.
Byrne was neither charged with a criminal offence nor prosecuted under the Nova Scotia Securities Act.