The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments says it supports a key external recommendation that it be given binding powers to offer investor awards.

OBSI, which handles customer disputes over banking and investment services, received an independent evaluation of its investment complaints operations from Deborah Battell, former New Zealand banking ombudsman. Battell recommended investor restitution in the form of binding awards paid by the firms involved in disputes.

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In a newly posted response to the external review, OBSI says it supports that recommendation.

“Another fundamental recommendation of the external reviewer was that OBSI be enabled to secure redress for customers, preferably by empowering OBSI to make awards that are binding on the firm. OBSI supports this recommendation, which is consistent with the recommendations of previous external reviews and with our organization’s public position for many years. However, OBSI does not have the power to unilaterally determine its powers,” the ombudsman says.

OBSI is regulated by Canadian Securities Administrators for its investment mandate and under the federal Bank Act and the regulations of the Department of Finance for banking.

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“Determining an appropriate mechanism by which OBSI’s ability to secure redress for consumers could be increased is a matter we intend to discuss with securities regulators and stakeholders in the months to come, with a view to finding a solution that meets the needs of consumers, regulators and participating firms,” the ombudsman adds.

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OBSI says it doesn’t support reviewing its compensation limit and increasing that limit from the current $350,000 per complaint. “We disagree with this recommendation. It is our view that our current compensation limit is appropriate for our current mandate, and allows us to assist the overwhelming majority of consumers who approach us for assistance,” it says.

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