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Nov 14, 2010

Agoracom settles with the OSC

IR firm admits wrongdoing in posting messages about its clients under aliases and intercepting private messages between users

Agoracom has settled with the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), bringing to a close the eight-month investigation into the activities of the IR services firm.

Under the settlement, Agoracom has agreed to pay a fine of $150,000. Its co-founders – George Tsiolis and Apostolis Kondakos – have also been banned from acting as directors or officers of a listed company for five years.

Agoracom is an online community for smaller companies and investors that creates discussion boards for its corporate clients. The OSC alleged that Agoracom ordered staff to post messages under aliases to its own message boards, in a bid to boost interest in its clients.

Agoracom was also accused of intercepting private messages between users of the firm’s website, and forwarding messages on to someone outside the organization.

As part of the settlement, Agoracom has put out a press release in which it admits wrongdoing in relation to the charges and accepts that it acted against the public interest. This press release must remain posted on Agoracom’s homepage for the next six months.

In a blog post, Tsiolis expresses relief that the case is finally over, and points to changes his firm is making to prevent this kind of activity occurring again.

‘Our organization has learned some hard yet very important lessons through this matter. Specifically, the need for strict written policies is absolutely in order to avoid potential problems and conflicts,’ he writes.

‘I assure you we are well into that process on multiple facets of our operations and we will continue to operate within a different policy culture.’