Bankruptcy Fraud

Understanding Bankruptcy Fraud: A Comprehensive Guide

Bankruptcy fraud, a serious offense in Canada, is a deceptive activity involving the abuse of bankruptcy laws. It often involves individuals intentionally misrepresenting or concealing assets to avoid paying off debts. This guide aims to provide a clear understanding of bankruptcy fraud, its different types, how it’s regulated, ways to report it, and the penalties associated with it.

An Overview of Bankruptcy Fraud

In the realm of finance, bankruptcy fraud is a form of deceit that involves the manipulation of bankruptcy declarations for personal gain. It’s a criminal act that can have serious implications for both individuals and companies.

Bankruptcy fraud can take several forms, including, but not limited to:

  • Misrepresentation of assets to obtain credit;
  • Concealment of assets to avoid debt repayment;
  • Fraudulent transfer of property before or after filing for bankruptcy.

Legal Framework Governing Bankruptcy in Canada

In Canada, bankruptcy is regulated by two primary legal documents: the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) and the Criminal Code of Canada. These documents define bankruptcy offenses and the penalties associated with them.

The BIA is responsible for the governance of all bankruptcy cases in Canada, outlining the procedures for declaring bankruptcy and the obligations of those involved. On the other hand, the Criminal Code of Canada is a federal law that defines various criminal offenses, including those related to bankruptcy, and stipulates the punishments for the convicted.

Common Forms of Bankruptcy Fraud

There are numerous ways individuals can commit bankruptcy fraud. Some of the most frequently seen offenses, as recognized by the Government of Canada, include:

  • Illegally transferring property either before or after filing for bankruptcy.
  • Making false entries in financial documents or concealing property records.
  • Acquiring credit through misrepresentation, or hiding bankruptcy status while borrowing $1000 or more.
  • Concealing or unlawfully removing property, or hiding claims or debts.
  • Avoiding full and truthful responses during BIA examinations.

Identifying Offenders: The Role of the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB)

The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) is the primary body responsible for detecting bankruptcy fraud cases in Canada. They can uncover instances of fraud through their detection programs or through complaints received from creditors, the general public, or a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT).

If a creditor suspects a bankrupt individual of not fulfilling their obligations, they have the right to oppose that person’s discharge from bankruptcy. To do this, the creditor should inform the LIT and the bankrupt person, provide reasons for their suspicions, and present supporting evidence to the Court.

Four Types of Bankruptcy Discharge

The Court has the discretion to decide on the discharge type for the bankrupt individual. There are four possible types of discharge:

Absolute discharge

The bankrupt person is released from the obligation to repay the majority of their debts.

Conditional discharge

The bankrupt person must meet certain conditions before receiving an absolute discharge.

Suspended discharge

The granting of an absolute discharge is delayed until a later date.

Refused discharge

The Court denies a discharge, and the bankrupt person remains obligated to their debts.

Investigative Units and The Integrity and Enforcement Branch (I&E)

If an LIT suspects a bankrupt individual of breaking the law, they must report it to the OSB. If the OSB believes an offense has occurred, the case is sent to one of its three special investigation units. These units, which now fall under the Integrity and Enforcement branch (I&E), work closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to investigate suspected criminal activities.

Penalties for Committing Bankruptcy Fraud

The consequences for bankruptcy fraud can be severe and varied, depending on the specific case. Those found guilty of this offense can face penalties such as:


  • Incarceration
  • Probation
  • Monetary restitution
  • Mandatory community service
  • House arrest

Moreover, individuals guilty of bankruptcy fraud may find it challenging to declare bankruptcy or propose a Consumer Proposal in the future.

Reporting Bankruptcy Fraud

Any member of the public can report suspected fraudulent activity related to a bankruptcy case by contacting the OSB at 1-877-376-9902.

Seeking Assistance from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT)

For those struggling with debt and considering bankruptcy, it’s recommended to seek advice from an LIT. As the only professionals authorized to administer government-regulated insolvency proceedings, LITs can provide valuable guidance.

We can be reached at 1-877-879-4770, or through our online contact form.

In conclusion, understanding the nature of bankruptcy fraud, its detection, and penalties is crucial to maintaining financial integrity. It is always advisable to consult with legal professionals when facing financial hardships to ensure compliance with the law.

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