On Tuesday, November 3rd I had a meeting at the Ontario Legislature with Jim McDonell, MPP, (PC–Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry). He is the PC Critic for the all-important Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. This ministry has a broad mandate involving provincial laws focusing on consumer protection.
Jim McDonell, MPP (Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry) and I discuss a number of issues related to protecting the public from illegal and unethical behavior by those holding themselves out as assisting consumers struggling with consumer debt.
During our meeting I shared my concerns with Jim McDonell, MPP, about unethical marketing practices by bankruptcy trustees–in particular–inappropriate relationships with debt consultants. Bankruptcy Trustees are regulated by the federal Superintendent of Bankruptcy in Ottawa and they are required to comply with the Code of Ethics for Trustees in Bankruptcy.
I am specifically concerned about the number of bankruptcy trustees in Ontario that would appear to be contravening section 38 of the Code of Ethics for Trustees in Bankruptcy
Section 38 of the Code of Ethics for Bankruptcy Trustees reads as follows:
Trustees shall not assist, advise or encourage any person to engage in any conduct that the trustees know, or ought to know, is illegal or dishonest, in respect of the bankruptcy and insolvency process.
After researching the conduct of debt consultants over the past four months it appears clear that a substantial percentage of bankruptcy trustees in Ontario might be routinely and systematically violating section 38 of the Code of Ethics for Trustees in Bankruptcy.
We have used undercover operatives armed with hidden cameras
I plan on shining a light on this practice over the next few days, weeks, and months. During this period we will be identifying those trustees whose relationships with certain debt consultants warrants a written complaint to the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. As part of our research my firm has been sending undercover operatives to meet with selected debt consultants–armed with hidden cameras–as part of our research. The results, quite frankly, have been disturbing. I anticipate that some of this video footage will be shared with the public in some manner in the near future.
Enough is enough
It is about time that bankruptcy trustees–as a group–say enough is enough. Unethical marketing practices by some–and definitely, not all trustees, is a plague on their house. Simply put, the greed of some bankruptcy trustees is contributing to the moral debasement of bankruptcy trustees in Ontario. This is not the Ontario I want to live in.
Furthermore, lawmakers, consumer advocacy groups, and the media should “get in the game” as well. It is time to identify the “bad actors”. Regulators in particular should be paying attention. If you are not going to do your job regulating the industry then people are going to start asking some very embarrassing questions.
Anyone engaging in illegal or unethical practices–including any trustees violating section 38 of the Code of Ethics–should be dealt with. Failure to do so shows contempt for vulnerable people in our society, recent immigrants, seniors, students as well as those suffering debt problems arising from the loss of a job, breakdown of a relationship, or serious health problems.
Request for assistance from the public
If you have any information regarding an inapprropriate relationship between a debt consultant and a bankruptcy trustee then I would invite you to contact me at (866) 996-9941 or (519) 827-5513. Alternatively, you can send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a number of short videos and longer documentaries in the production stage. We are also interested in sending our undercover operatives into additional locations.