FINTRAC Collects Too Much Finacial Information

Well, this certainly doesn’t instill confidence in Canadian banks and the Canadian government around financial privacy.
In a report to Parliament today, Jennifer Stoddart, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, reported FINTRAC Collects Too Much Information On Innocent Canadians.
I had no idea there even was a Financial Transactions Reports Analysis Centre. Did anyone else know that?
This says:

By law, Canadian banks, casinos and thousands of other businesses are required to report all financial transactions over $10,000, and any movement of money they suspect may be linked to terrorism or laundering the proceeds of crime.

What?!? Does that mean that the money I transferred from my bank to my credit union recently had to be reported to FINTRAC?
The article also says:

Instead, Stoddart’s investigators found everyday financial transactions of ordinary Canadians — things such as down payments for homes and cars, and wire transfers from families overseas to their children studying here.

Stoddart’s report points out that FINTRAC has amassed over 165 million reports containing personal information about financial transactions.
Civil Liberties groups are on it.

Civil liberties advocates say that likely means that thousands of innocent Canadians have been put under a cloud of suspicion, lumped in with suspected money launderers and terrorist financiers.

This is beginning to sound something like FATCA.

2 thoughts on “FINTRAC Collects Too Much Finacial Information

  1. Here is some more information on FINTRAC. Obviously, guidelines were exceeded or ignored.
    1.1 Who is covered by the Act?
    The Act applies to the following individuals and entities (called reporting entities) who must report suspicious transactions, terrorist property and certain other transactions to FINTRAC:
    • Financial entities (including banks, credit unions, caisses populaires, financial services cooperatives, trust and loan companies, and agents of the Crown that accept deposit liabilities)
    • Life insurance companies, brokers, and agents
    • Securities dealers (including portfolio managers and investment counselors)
    • Authorized foreign banks with respect to their operations in Canada
    • Money services businesses
    • Accountants and accounting firms (when carrying out certain activities on behalf of their clients)
    • Real estate brokers or sales representatives (when carrying out certain activities)
    • Casinos
    • Agents of the crown or provinces that sell money orders
    • Dealers in precious metals and stones
    • British Columbia’s notaries public (including notary corporations) (when carrying out certain activities on behalf of their clients)
    • Employees of any of the above
    1.2 What is FINTRAC?
    The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), often referred to as “the Centre” in the Act, was established as an independent agency. FINTRAC collects and coordinates the data it receives in order to facilitate more effective and efficient recognition of money laundering activities. It also conducts its own internal research and obtains information from other international sources. FINTRAC operates independently from law enforcement agencies even though part of its mandate is to assist in the detection and prevention of money laundering in Canada and around the world.
    1.3 What does FINTRAC do with the information reported?
    If FINTRAC determines, based on its analysis and assessment, that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the information reported would be relevant to the investigation or prosecution of a money laundering offence, it will disclose designated information only to the appropriate police force.
    If the police force wants more information than what FINTRAC has provided, it must obtain a court order directing the release of further information.
    1.4 Whom may FINTRAC disclose information to?
    In addition to the appropriate police force, FINTRAC may also disclose this same designated information to three other government agencies provided key conditions have been met. FINTRAC must determine first that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a money laundering offence has occurred and second that other criteria pertaining to the government agencies have been met. The government agencies involved and the related criteria that must be met are:
    • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) — If FINTRAC determines that information is relevant to an offence of evading or attempting to evade paying taxes or duties imposed under an Act of Parliament administered by the Minister of National Revenue;
    • Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) — If FINTRAC determines that the information is relevant to threats to the security of Canada within the meaning of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act; and
    • Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) — If FINTRAC determines that the information would promote the objective set out in the Immigration Act, specifically promoting international order and justice by denying the use of Canadian territory to persons who are likely to engage in criminal activity.
    Unlike law enforcement agencies, these government bodies cannot access additional information from FINTRAC, even if they attempt to obtain a court order supporting their request.
    FINTRAC may also disclose the designated information to Financial Intelligence Units (FIU) in countries with which Canada has a reciprocal FIU information-sharing agreement.
    1.5 Protection of privacy
    The PCMLTFA forces FINTRAC to respect individual privacy and to protect confidential information. Some of the safeguards intended to protect the privacy of individuals are:
    • Independence of FINTRAC from law enforcement and other government agencies entitled to receive information;
    • Significant criminal penalties for unauthorized use or disclosure of personal information obtained by FINTRAC;
    • The restriction that only limited designated information may be disclosed to law enforcement and only once FINTRAC has determined that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the information would be relevant to the investigation or prosecution of a money laundering offence;
    • The requirement that police have to get a court order to obtain more than the designated information; and
    • The fact that FINTRAC is subject to the Privacy Act.

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