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Effectiveness Reviews for Dealers in Virtual Currency

Effective June 1, 2020, dealers in Virtual Currency activities were considered as Money Services Businesses (MSBs) and as such, must comply with MSB obligations under amendments made to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA). One obligation is to have an AML effectiveness review at least once every two years. MSBs must start their effectiveness review no later than two years from the start of their previous review or in the case of dealers in Virtual Currency, no later than June 1, 2022, the date they were considered to be MSBs under law.

Such reviews must test your compliance program and effectiveness of your operations. Our reviews follow a similar format to examinations conducted by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), which you can read more about in a previous Blog Post.

We’re Here To Help

If you have not yet engaged or commenced your review, there are still a couple of weeks to be compliant. If you would like to engage Outlier to conduct your AML Compliance Effectiveness Review or have questions regarding this obligation, please get in touch.

Amendments To The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations – 2022

Background

On April 27, 2022 amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette. To make reading these changes a little easier, we (thanks Rodney) have created a redlined version of the regulations, with new content showing as tracked changes, which can be found here.

The Regulatory Impact Statement for these changes state the following:

Crowdfunding platforms and some payment service providers are not currently covered by the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (the Act) and therefore have no money laundering and terrorist financing obligations under federal statute. This lack of oversight presents a serious and immediate risk to the security of Canadians and to the Canadian economy. This risk was highlighted in early 2022, when illegal blockades took place across Canada that were financed, in part, through crowdfunding platforms and payment service providers. Allowing these gaps to continue represents a risk to the integrity and stability of the financial sector and the broader economy, as well as a reputational risk for Canada.

Amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations, and consequential amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations, will help prevent the financing of illegal activities through these types of financial services.

What’s Changed?

The changes are substantial and sudden. They will affect many companies that have not been previously under the purview of AML regulation in Canada. These changes are effective immediately and there is no comment period, which is not the norm for such changes.

To help digest these changes, we have summarized what we feel are the most important changes below:

The definition for an electronic funds transfer has been removed and the corresponding section within the body of the regulations was amended. Previous exemptions related to remitting or transmitting from one person or entity to another by Credit or Debit Card, or Prepaid Payment Product if the beneficiary has an agreement with the payment service provider that permits payment for the provision of goods and services, has been revoked for money services businesses, which as we mentioned now includes Payment Service Providers.

The definitions section was amended by adding the following:

  • crowdfunding platform means a website or an application or other software that is used to raise funds or virtual currency through donations. (plateforme de sociofinancement)
  • crowdfunding platform services means the provision and maintenance of a crowdfunding platform for use by other persons or entities to raise funds or virtual currency for themselves or for persons or entities specified by them.

With these changes, crowdfunding platforms and payment service providers will now be subject to existing money services businesses requirements. These obligations include:

  • Registration with FINTRAC;
  • Developing a compliance program;
  • Customer identification and due diligence;
  • Transaction monitoring and customer risk scoring;
  • Reporting certain transactions to regulators and government agencies;
  • Complying with Ministerial Directives; and
  • Keeping records.

Specific to record keeping, crowdfunding platforms that provide services to persons or entities in Canada where a person donates an amount of CAD 1,000 or more in funds or virtual currency will need to:

(a) keep an information record in respect of the person or entity to which they provide those services;

(b) keep a record of the purpose for which the funds or virtual currency are being raised; and

(c) if the person or entity for which the funds or virtual currency are being raised is different from the person or entity referred to in paragraph (a),

      1. keep a record of their name, and
      2. take reasonable measures to obtain their address, the nature of their principal business or their occupation and, in the case of a person, their date of birth, and keep a record of the information obtained.

What Next?

Due to these changes, FINTRAC will need to revise its interpretation of existing requirements to include crowdfunding platforms and payment service providers. There is no set date for when we can expect guidance from FINTRAC. Additionally, various FINTRAC policy interpretations will no longer be able to be relied upon (i.e. policy interpretations related to merchant services as well as payment processing for utility bills, mortgage and rent, payroll, and tuition being exempt from AML obligations). The hope is FINTRAC will issue new policy interpretations, but for now the industry is left with many questions.

We’re Here To Help

If you would like assistance in understanding what these changes mean to your business, or if you need help in creating or updating your compliance program and processes, please get in touch.

We’re Hiring!

We’re looking for an AML compliance person. Initially, this is going to be a part-time / backfill role, but we’d love for it to be a permanent role (either part time or full time, depending on the need and fit). We have a team member that will be taking some time off shortly, and we were at the point that we were talking about bringing on another compliance ninja before that. We take bringing on new team members very seriously. We’re a small group, and we work very well together. We’d be lying if we said that “can we just handle the work ourselves?” isn’t something that was brought up (multiple times). You’re reading this posting because we need a very capable human, and maybe that’s you.

While we know many great folks, we’ve chosen to post this role publicly in the interest of widening the possible field to include candidates that we might not know personally.

What does the job actually entail?
We’re compliance consultants. Our practice includes anti-money laundering (AML), privacy, and regulatory compliance. Most of the companies that we work with are AML reporting entities (banks, credit unions, money services businesses, securities dealers, dealers in precious metals and stones, etc.). Our work is project based. Those projects include:

  • Developing and updating policies, procedures and risk assessments;
  • Designing and delivering training;
  • Conducting effectiveness reviews;
  • Helping clients to prepare for reviews and regulatory examinations;
  • Helping clients to remediate review and regulatory examination findings; and
  • Helping clients with compliance related questions.

In order to do this effectively, we believe that you need to have deep, hands-on experience in these areas. This is why all of our team members have over 10,000 hours of in-house compliance experience. This is non-negotiable.

What you’ll love about working at Outlier
We think that our team is pretty great: we’re all professional, friendly, and incredibly nerdy.

No two days are the same: we work on different projects that move at different paces. As long as the desired outcome is delivered on time, you can work at your pace from your location. Occasionally we may need to be onsite with our clients but most work is done remotely.

Our clients are professionals, entrepreneurs and thought leaders: we learn as much from our clients as they learn from us. It is often an absolutely incredible journey.

The compensation model is radically transparent and tied to individual performance: our consultants earn a share of the revenue related to each project in which they participate. These are democratic decisions that are visible to the whole team, ensuring fairness.

What might terrify you, but shouldn’t stop you
We think that our team is pretty great: at first, we’re going to seem intimidating and cliquey. We’ll do everything that we can to bring you into the fold, but you’re going to have to identify and ask for what you need.

No two days are the same: sometimes things get hectic and it can be stressful. You’ll need to be able to provide your own structure and manage your own schedule.

Our clients are professionals, entrepreneurs and thought leaders: they will push boundaries and ways of thinking, and they won’t always be compliance-minded.

The compensation model is radically transparent and tied to individual performance: openly discussing compensation can be awkward at first. We’ll try to remember that and be empathetic.

Some things that we think are probably true about the right candidate

  • You’re really good at what you do, but you are never satisfied.
  • Every time you’ve left a job, they’ve had to hire several people to replace you. You try not to gloat about this too much, but sometimes you can’t help it.
  • When put in charge of a well-functioning system, you’re likely to test “process improvements” until something breaks.
  • You’re at your very best when you’re fixing something broken or building something new – those challenges invigorate you.
  • When a business person tells you what they want to build, you immediately start thinking about how to execute their ideas within the parameters of existing law and regulation.
  • The phrase “that’s the way we’ve always done it” makes you either shudder or clench your jaw.
  • In your spare time, you probably also make or build something.

Want to apply?
Send an email with your resume attached in PDF format to: ninjas@outliercanada.com by May 13, 2022.
The subject line should read: Compliance Ninja, 2022
In the body of the email, please indicate why you believe that you would be a good fit, referencing this posting, as well as where you clocked your 10,000 hours of in-house compliance practice. Please feel free to include any questions that you have for us at the outset as well.
Please note that messages submitted in any other formats via any other channels will not be considered. Only applicants selected for an interview will be contacted.

Outlier Solutions Inc. Offering Compliance Services to the Metaverse in Decentraland

February 23, 2022 Toronto — Outlier Solutions Inc. doing business as Outlier Compliance Group, a consultancy specializing in compliance solutions for reporting entities ranging from banks to dealers in virtual currencies (like bitcoin) to real estate firms, is one of the first to offer compliance services in the metaverse. Outlier will be joining as one of the professional service providers setting up shop in conjunction with Grinhaus Law Firm, a leading Canadian law firm in Blockchain regulatory advisory, and DGM Financial Group, a prominent Trust and corporate services office which helps structure crypto businesses internationally, in Decentraland, to service clients globally and through the metaverse.

Visitors to Decentraland will now be able to visit Outlier’s office, and book meetings with one of the team members. Visitors can discuss their Canadian compliance needs on topics such as Canadian anti-money laundering (AML), counter terrorist financing (CTF), privacy, and regulatory compliance management. Virtual spaces include traditional offices and a fountain (and of course, meetings can also be requested in person and via more traditional virtual meeting software). The Decentraland office is located at -39, 121, in the same neighbourhood as Decentraland University.

“The world, actual and virtual, is evolving rapidly” said Outlier’s Founder and CEO, Amber D. Scott. “It’s important to understand what shape that evolution is taking, and no better way to learn than to be involved directly.” She adds, “It just makes sense that in order to be good advisors to companies operating in the metaverse, we would be there too.”

Scott’s avatar in Decentraland checks out the new virtual office space.

Founder of Grinhaus Law Firm, Aaron Grinhaus, stated, “we are pleased to welcome Outlier Solutions Inc. and complement our line up of professional services to help people and businesses navigate the ‘gray areas’ and legitimize the existence of the metaverse.”

Decentraland, with its 800,000+ residents and $54B in transactions, is also home to a wide array of companies and institutions from academia to crypto companies to fashion. This represents an opportunity to strategically grow Outlier’s presence as well as participate in the booming growth and creation in the metaverse.

Please direct media inquiries to decentraland@outliercanada.com.

About Outlier Solutions Inc.
Outlier Solutions Inc. dba Outlier Compliance Group is a Canadian consulting firm, founded in August of 2013, which is focused on developing compliance solutions for reporting entities. Outlier’s areas of expertise include anti-money laundering (AML), counter terrorist financing (CTF), privacy, and regulatory compliance.

For further information please visit https://www.outliercanada.com

About Grinhaus Law Firm
Grinhaus Law Firm was established in 2012 and is a business, tax and regulatory focused firm with a niche expertise in Blockchain and Smart Contract law.

For further information please visit https://grinhauslaw.ca

About DGM Financial Group
DGM Financial Group is a global financial services firm that provides Trust Administration, Corporate Services, Management Services to insurance and non-insurance companies, Family Office, Director Services, and is a Listing Sponsor on the Barbados Stock Exchange.

For further information please visit https://dgmfinancialgroup.com/

About Decentraland
Decentraland is the first fully decentralized virtual world. Powered by DAO, which owns the most important smart contracts and assets of Decentraland. Decentraland is a software running on Ethereum that seeks to incentivize a global network of users to operate a shared virtual world. Decentraland users can buy and sell digital real estate, while exploring, interacting and playing games within this virtual world.

For further information please visit https://decentraland.org

Fraud & Reasonable Grounds to Suspect

One of the themes that was prevalent in Canadian AML for 2021 was the relatively low bar represented by “reasonable grounds to suspect” (RGS) and the types of transactions for which FINTRAC expected suspicious transaction reports (STRs) to be filed. One of our astute colleagues worked with us to craft some specific scenarios (the full version, including FINTRAC’s response, can be viewed here), and FINTRAC’s response seems to confirm a significant shift in position from previous discussions. Specifically, STRs are expected in cases of fraud, including cases in which the reporting entity’s client is believed to be the victim of fraud.

Here is a scenario that we asked about:

Scenario 2

A client reaches out to notify us that they sent the virtual currency to another party who promised them a generous short-term return. The client never received the promised funds and believes they have been defrauded. We review the customer account activity and do not find any anomalous activity either prior to or after the client sent the virtual currency to the wallet provided by the fraudster. The client appears to have sent their own funds to the fraudster and there is no account activity corresponding to any irregular transactions, including money mule indicators. Our client is simply a victim of fraud.

Based on strictly these facts, context and indicators, we have not reached reasonable grounds to suspect any money laundering or terrorist financing offences by our client. There may be downstream suspicion related to the wallet where the fraudulently obtained funds were sent but we do not have any suspicion based solely on our client’s transactions which include the transmission of virtual currency to that other wallet. We do not have any information or suspicion related to the other wallet except for the knowledge that our client’s virtual currency was sent to it.

Given the above, we believe no STR would be required. Could you please confirm our position? If the position taken here does not seem correct, please provide an underlying rationale.

And an excerpt from FINTRAC’s response:

In scenario 2, an STR should be submitted if the reporting entity reached reasonable grounds to suspect that the transaction or attempted transaction is related to fraud.

Not Just for Virtual Currency

While the scenario that we’ve provided is specific to virtual currency, the implications of this policy interpretation are not limited to transactions that involve virtual currencies. Every reporting entity type will deal with suspected and confirmed cases of fraud that touch their business models.

Why Does It Matter

To really get to why this matters so much, we need to first look at the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA), which is where the requirement is first defined in Section 7:

Transactions if reasonable grounds to suspect

7 Subject to section 10.1, every person or entity referred to in section 5 shall, in accordance with the regulations, report to the Centre every financial transaction that occurs or that is attempted in the course of their activities and in respect of which there are reasonable grounds to suspect that

(a) the transaction is related to the commission or the attempted commission of a money laundering offence; or

(b) the transaction is related to the commission or the attempted commission of a terrorist activity financing offence.

This is important as the provision of the PCMLTFA (the section number) is what’s listed in the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations, where potential penalties are defined. Violations of Section 7 of the PCMLTFA are considered “very serious”. In turn, a “very serious” violation can lead to a penalty of up to $500,000 – for each instance.

If you’re a quantitative type quietly working out the rough number of fraud cases that your reporting entity has had recently, multiplying by $500,000, and feeling a bit nervous, you are not alone.

What’s Next?

While guidance and policy interpretations do not carry the force of law, this is often a distinction without a difference. Might a reporting entity take an appeal to federal court and win? Perhaps…though under the existing rules, that reporting entity’s name will be published (required where the violation is considered to be “very serious”), which for some reporting entities would have significant consequences, including the loss of vital banking partner relationships. Further, the cost of competent representation in a federal appeal process is well beyond the means of most small and mid-sized reporting entities.

Industry associations will, no doubt, continue to lead important conversations with FINTRAC and seek clarification for their members.

In the meantime, for most Canadian reporting entities, the most pragmatic decision will likely be to devise internal guidelines that include reporting STRs related to fraud cases.

Need a Hand?

If you want to make updates to your compliance program to reflect this new policy interpretation, or assistance with Canadian AML generally, please contact us.

Proliferation Financing

 

 

 

 

What is it, and why should AML compliance professionals be paying attention?

If you’ve looked at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s recommendations recently, you’ve no doubt noticed that there are now three big topics on the covering page:

  • Money laundering,
  • Terrorist financing, and
  • Proliferation.

The last of these has received considerably less attention until recently, and in many cases, it may not be explicitly included in either jurisdiction-specific legislation or compliance programs. While some elements of proliferation are generally included (for instance, it is rare to see a compliance program that does not address sanctions-related list screening), there is often little if any consideration given to risks such as sanctions evasion or the non-implementation of sanctions.

According to the FATF, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation refers to the manufacture, acquisition, possession, development, export, trans-shipment, brokering, transport, transfer, stockpiling or use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery and related materials (including both dual-use technologies and dual use goods used for non-legitimate purposes). The financing of proliferation refers to the risk of raising, moving, or making available funds, other assets or other economic resources, or financing, in whole or in part, to persons or entities for purposes of WMD proliferation, including the proliferation of their means of delivery or related materials (including both dual-use technologies and dual-use goods for non-legitimate purposes). There are targeted financial sanctions intended to prevent specific jurisdictions, organizations, and persons from participating in any proliferation-related activities.

In Canada, reporting entities have strict obligations to comply with sanctions requirements.

Similarly, terrorists and terrorist groups are often subject to financial sanctions and prohibitions. All accounts and transactions are scanned against listed persons and entities. In the case that we have property (including money and investments) in our possession that belongs to a listed person or entity, it must be frozen and reported immediately.

Recommendation 1 requires countries and private sector entities to identify, assess, and understand “proliferation financing risks”. In the context of Recommendation 1, “proliferation financing risk” refers strictly and only to the potential breach, non-implementation or evasion of the targeted financial obligations referred to in Recommendation 7. These R.7 obligations apply to two country-specific regimes for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran, require countries to freeze without delay the funds or other assets of, and to ensure that no funds and other assets are made available, directly or indirectly to or for the benefit of (a) any person or entity designated by the United Nations (UN), (b) persons and entities acting on their behalf or at their direction, (c) those owned or controlled by them. The full text of Recommendations 1 and 7 is set out at Annex A.

Canadian reporting entities will be familiar with Ministerial Directives related to North Korea and Iran that impose additional requirements, as well as providing indicators of activity related to these jurisdictions. While we may not be used to thinking about these requirements as being controls related to proliferation financing risk, this is exactly what they are. We may also fail to consider how they fit into our overall compliance regimes.

Proliferation Financing Trends and Typologies

It is not enough to simply say that your business does not deal with these jurisdictions directly. In many cases, funds are not actually repatriated to these jurisdictions but are held in other countries. For instance, identified state-sponsored North Korean hacking groups have moved stolen funds and virtual currencies through the Philippines, Macau, and China. In addition, actors intending to circumvent sanctions are known to be relatively proficient in using false and manufactured identities, as well as well as organizational structures intended to obfuscate true beneficial ownership. In the FATF’s webinar on proliferation financing, the global watchdog noted that proliferation financing may be one of the most challenging threats to detect in action, due to its complex nature.

Helpful Resources

Late in 2021, the FATF conducted an excellent webinar on proliferation financing risk assessment and mitigation, which has now been posted publicly. This presentation includes an excellent high-level overview, as well as detailed discussions of the trends and typologies that are relevant today.

It can be useful to review the aspects of the FATF’s recommendations that refer to proliferation.

There is additional guidance from the FATF on proliferation financing risk assessment and mitigation. This is a detailed document focused entirely on proliferation financing, and the FATF’s expectations.

The UK has conducted a national level assessment of proliferation financing risk. This includes a number of relevant case studies and typologies. If you want the sense of it, but are short on time, our friend Dev Odedra has published a summary.

Manchester CF has launched a proliferation financing training module as part of the Financial Intelligence Specialist (FIS) designation, offered in conjunction with the University of Newhaven.

Need a Hand?

If you want to get ahead of the curve by having a conversation about proliferation financing risk and potential impacts to your compliance program, please contact us.

FINTRAC Examinations for the Real Estate Sector

We often hear friends and clients in the real estate sector say they are unsure what to expect if (and when) the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) notifies them of an examination. This article is meant to provide guidance on what to expect and how to ensure a smooth review.

Background

In 2019–20, FINTRAC conducted 399 compliance examinations, of which 146 were focused on the real estate sector [1]. The real estate sector has been the main focus for FINTRAC examinations since 2017 due to the growing concern of money laundering taking place in the Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal real estate market.

For the purpose of assessing compliance, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act gives FINTRAC the authority to inquire into the business of any regulated entity.

FINTRAC examinations are reviews of your compliance program (what you say you are doing to stay in compliance) and your operations (what you’re actually doing to stay in compliance). These exams can take place at any time and should not be confused with your obligation to have an AML Effectiveness Review at least once every two years. FINTRAC examinations can take place in-person onsite at your office, at a FINTRAC office, or over the phone. FINTRAC will provide advance notice of an examination, which is scheduled by telephone and confirmed by letter [2]. Note, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FINTRAC is not currently conducting onsite examinations [3].

I Have Received Notice of an Exam. Now What?

FINTRAC will request documentation, including your compliance policies and procedures, assessment of risks of money laundering and terrorist financing, measures to mitigate high risks, samples of transaction documentation, and other documents be summitted to them. Based on FINTRAC’s areas of review, the below is a sample list of what you can expect to provide. We have also created a more detailed version of the list which you can find here.

  • Most recent version of compliance policies and procedures;
  • Most recent version of your documented risk assessment;
  • Copy of the last two documented internal and/or external reviews of your compliance program (this may include the reviewer’s working papers as well);
  • Training program and records;
  • Organizational Chart;
  • Financial Statements;
  • Number of full-time and part-time employees/sales representative;
  • All suspicious and attempted suspicious transaction records;
  • A list of all closed deals related to the sale/purchase of real estate;
  • In-Trust bank account records; and
  • Large cash transaction records.

You will generally have 30 days to provide all requested documentation to FINTRAC. It’s a good idea to read through the request carefully before you begin your preparation.

Whether you are submitting your materials on paper or in electronic format, it is a good idea to create folders or cover pages for each item that FINTRAC has requested. This creates separate sections for each item and helps you to stay organized. A missed item usually can’t be submitted once the deadline has passed, and can result in deficiencies. We’ve created a sample format for your submission package that you can download for free here.

The Exam

Whether the FINTRAC exam is in-person, at their office or over the phone, they follow very similar formats. The key difference is the regulator’s ability to request additional operational data during onsite examinations.

It is ok for you to take notes throughout the examination process (and we recommend that you do). You are permitted to have a lawyer, consultant or other representative with you (if you do, FINTRAC will request that you complete the Authorized Representative Form in advance). While your representative cannot generally answer questions on your behalf, they can prompt you if you are nervous or stuck, and help you to understand what is being asked of you if it is not clear.

The Introduction

The examiner will provide a brief overview of the examination process as a formal opening to the examination. At the end of this introduction, the examiner will ask if you have any questions. At this point, it can be useful to provide a very brief (five minutes maximum) overview of your business.

Your introduction should reflect the materials that you have already submitted to FINTRAC (which ideally included an opening letter that described anything about the business that would not be readily apparent to the examiner, or anything that you believe could be misunderstood). Key facts about your business include:

  • Your corporate structure and ownership;
  • The types of products and services that are offered/types of transactions that are conducted;
  • Where your offices, agents and customers are located;
  • How you connect with your customers; and
  • Anything significant that has changed since your last FINTRAC examination.

This overview should be simple and brief.  At this point, the examination will then begin. At the end of each section, the examiner will ask if you have any questions and let you know whether there are any deficiencies.

Compliance Policies & Procedures

During this part, FINTRAC will ask questions about the policy and procedure documents that you have provided in advance of the examination. There are a few standard questions that are generally asked:

  • Who wrote the policies and procedures?
  • Were the versions submitted to FINTRAC the most recent versions?
  • When were they last updated?
  • When and how do you identify your customers?
  • How do you ensure that identification is up to date?
  • How do you monitor transactions?
  • How do you recognize, document and monitor “business relationships” (note: this is any time that you have either an ongoing service agreement with a customer and/or your customer has performed two or more transactions that require identification [4]).
  • What are indicators of a suspicious transaction?
  • The examiner will also ask a number of questions based on the documents that you have submitted, including questions about compliance-related processes.

Risk Assessment

During this part, FINTRAC will focus on your Risk Based Approach, asking specific questions about the Risk Assessment and related documents that you have provided in advance of your examination. Again, there are some common questions that are asked:

  • Do you have any high risk customers or business relationships?
  • What factors do you consider in determining that a customer or business relationship is high risk?
  • How are customer due diligence and enhanced due diligence different (both generally, and in your processes and documentation)?

Most additional questions will be related to risk management processes. For example, it has been common in the last few months for examiners to ask if a customer or transaction could be rejected (“Yes, if it was outside of our risk tolerance”).

This may also lead to questions about whether or not an Attempted Suspicious Transaction Report (ASTR) or Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) was filed. If there were reasonable grounds to suspect money laundering or terrorist financing, the answer should be yes. If not, you should explicitly say “There were not reasonable grounds to believe that this event was related to money laundering or terrorist financing”, then provide an explanation.

Operational Compliance & Reporting

During this part, the examiner will ask questions about specific transactions/deals. Some of the cases that you must be ready to explain are:

  • A transaction matches an indicator of potentially suspicious activity (if there were reasonable grounds to suspect money laundering or terrorist financing, the answer should be that you filed an STR, if not, you should explicitly say that “there were not reasonable grounds to believe that this event was related to money laundering or terrorist financing”, then provide an explanation);
  • Questions related to receipt of funds and large cash transactions; and
  • Business relationships and ongoing monitoring (in particular, if this did not occur earlier in the examination).

During a desk examination, the examiners typically do not request additional materials.

During onsite examinations, it has become commonplace for examiners to request additional materials. These are generally related to:

  • Business relationships;
  • Ongoing monitoring (including the monitoring of business relationships);
  • High risk customers;
  • Enhanced due diligence; and
  • Other risk-based processes.

Be clear with the examiner about what can be extracted easily from your IT systems, and in the case that data cannot be extracted easily, be prepared to show the examiner an example (or several). If your system has an “auditor access” feature (generally read-only access with search capability), it can be useful to set this up in advance of the onsite visit.

Exit Interview

Congratulations – you’ve made it to the finish line!

At this point, the examiner will sum up the findings (if there are any), and read a standard disclosure statement. For most of us, the disclosure statement is terrifying, as it talks about penalties. This is standard process – do not be alarmed. When the examiner has finished, you may ask if a penalty is being recommended (if you’re a worrier, please do this). Not all FINTRAC examiners will provide guidance at this stage, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

After the Exit Interview

After the examination and exit interview, generally within 30 days, you will receive a formal letter that details FINTRAC’s findings. The letter will state either of these possibilities:

  • No further compliance or enforcement action;
  • Possible follow-up compliance action; or
  • A recommendation for an enforcement action, such as an administrative monetary penalty (AMP).

In the case that there is an AMP imposed, we recommend taking action as soon as possible. In most cases, FINTRAC does not require real estate brokers and sales representatives to submit an action plan.

We’re Here To Help

If you need assistance preparing for a FINTRAC exam or have any compliance questions in general, please contact us.

 

 

[1] https://www.fintrac-canafe.gc.ca/publications/ar/2020/1-eng

[2] FINTRAC considers the date on which you are advised of an examination, which is typically done by phone, to be the start of the compliance examination process.

[3] https://www.fintrac-canafe.gc.ca/covid19/covid-2020-07-27-eng

[4] Effective June 1, 2021 a business relationship will be defined as either entering into an ongoing service agreement with a customer and/or your customer has performed one or more transactions that require identification.

The Iran Ministerial Directive’s Impact

Quick Overview

On July 25, 2020, a new Ministerial Directive (MD) was published in the Canada Gazette by the Minister of Finance on financial transactions associated with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  On July 27, 2020, FINTRAC issued guidance on how to incorporate the MD into your anti-money laundering (AML) program, along with some indicators for determining if a transaction is associated with Iran. This MD requires that every transaction originating from or bound for Iran be treated as high risk, regardless of the amount. This includes identifying every client, performing customer due diligence, and recording certain information. It is vital that your AML compliance program documentation contains internal processes related to MDs, even if you do not conduct transactions with Iran (or North Korea, based on the previous MD issued December 9, 2017).

What is a Ministerial Directive?

MDs are specific requirements imposed by the Minister of Finance that are meant to mitigate risks associated with activities that pose elevated risk and safeguard the integrity of Canada’s financial system. To date, these areas of elevated risk have been identified by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as posing strategic deficiencies with regards to international standards for anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing.

What does this Ministerial Directive require?

The guidance from FINTRAC states that every bank, credit union, financial services cooperative, caisse populaire, authorized foreign bank and Money Services Business (MSB) must:

  • Treat every financial transaction originating from or bound for Iran, regardless of its amount, as a high-risk transaction;
  • Verify the identity of any client (person or entity) requesting or benefiting from such a transaction;
  • Exercise customer due diligence, including ascertaining the source of funds in any such transaction, the purpose of the transaction and, where appropriate, the beneficial ownership or control of any entity requesting or benefiting from the transaction;
  • Keep and retain a record of any such transaction;
  • Determine whether there are reasonable grounds to suspect the commission or attempted commission of a money laundering or terrorist financing offence and report all suspicious transactions to FINTRAC;
  • Reporting all other reportable transactions (if applicable).

To be clear, this MD does not apply to transactions where there is no suspicion or explicit connection with Iran and there is no evidence of the transaction originating from or being bound for Iran. A couple of examples were provided in the FINTRAC Guidance:

  • A client who has previously sent funds to Iran requests an outgoing EFT, where the transaction details do not suggest that this transaction is bound for Iran and you are unable to obtain further details about the transaction destination; or
  • The client’s identification information is the only suggestion of a connection to Iran (for example, a transaction where the conductor’s identification document is an Iranian passport).

What does it mean to you?

It is important to understand that even if your business does not facilitate transactions involving Iran, it is expected that you have a process in place for adhering to MDs, including how the Compliance Officer stays up to date. Within your AML compliance program documentation, you need to have a section that talks about MDs generally, plus specific procedures related to handling the current MDs (transactions involving Iran and North Korea). In the FINTRAC guidance related to this MD, it states that during an examination, FINTRAC will assess your compliance with MDs and failures to do so are considered very serious and may result in a penalty.

What now?

In order to ensure familiarity for anyone who interacts with customers and their transactions, the list of FINTRAC’s indicators should be communicated immediately.  Furthermore, the indicators should also be included in your procedure manuals and annual AML compliance training topics, allowing easy access to the information. Documenting the information and related processes for MDs is very important so you can demonstrate to FINTRAC your adherence to the requirements during an examination.

Need a hand?

We’ve made it easier for you to integrate this content into your program by putting the information into a Word document for you. If you aren’t sure what to do with this information and would like some assistance, please feel free to contact us.

Amended AML Regulations June 10, 2020 – Redlined Versions

The following red-lined versions have been created to reflect final amendments to Canadian anti-money laundering (AML) laws & regulations published in the Canada Gazette on June 10, 2020.  Amendments to the Cross-border Currency and Monetary Instruments Reporting Regulations will come into force on June 1, 2020. All other amendments will come into force on June 1, 2021. We have created industry specific blogs to make understanding the changes easier, which are located here.

Redlined versions of all the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations are listed below for download.

These documents are not official versions of the regulations. Official versions can be found on the Government of Canada’s Justice Laws Website.

Regulations Amending the Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act

Please click the link below for downloadable PDF file.

Regulations Amending the Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Proceeds of Crime July 2019 – Redlined_June 2020

Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations

Please click the links below for downloadable pdf files.
PCMLTF_July_2019_Redlined_Full_July_2019 – Redlined_June 2020

Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Suspicious Transaction Reporting Regulations

Please click the links below for downloadable pdf files.
PCMLTF_Suspicious_Transaction_Reporting_Regulations_July_2019 – Redlined_June 2020

Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Registration Regulations

Please click the link below for a downloadable PDF file.
PCMLTF_Registration_Regulations_July_2019 – Redlined_June 2020

Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations

Please click the link below for a downloadable pdf file.
PCMLTF_Administrative_Monetary_Penalties_Regulations_July_2019 – Redlined_June 2020

Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Cross-Border Currency and Monetary Instruments Reporting Regulations

Please click the link below for a downloadable pdf file.
PCMLTF_Cross-Border_Currency_and_Monetary_Instruments_Reporting_Regulations_July_2019 – Redlined_June 2020

Need a Hand?

Whether you need to figure out if you’re a dealer in virtual currency, to put a compliance program in place, or to evaluate your existing compliance program, we can help. You can get in touch using our online form, by emailing info@outliercanada.com, or by calling us toll-free at 1-844-919-1623.

Amending the Amendments! 2020 AML Changes for Real Estate

Background

Back on July 10, 2019, the highly anticipated final version of the amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and its enacted regulations were published. However, on June 10, 2020, further amendments to those amended regulations were published in the Canada Gazette. To make reading these changes a little easier, we have created a redlined version of the regulations, with new content showing as tracked changes, which can be found here.

The purpose of this round of amendments is to better align measures with international standards and level the playing field across reporting entities by applying stronger customer due diligence requirements and beneficial ownership requirements to designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs). The amendments come into force on June 1, 2021.

We have summarized the changes that will have an impact on real estate developers, brokers, and sales representatives below.

Business Relationship

One of the most significant proposed changes for real estate developers, brokers, and sales representatives is related to the definition of a business relationship. Currently, a business relationship is defined as:

If a person or entity does not have an account with you, a business relationship is formed once you have conducted two transactions or activities for which you have to:

  • verify the identity of the individual; or
  • confirm the existence of the entity.

The amendments change the definition for real estate developers, brokers, and sales representatives to the first time that the person or entity is required to verify the identity of the client.

For business relationships, a reporting entity must:

  • keep a record of the purpose and intended nature of the business relationship;
  • conduct ongoing monitoring of your business relationship with your client to:
    • detect any transactions that need to be reported as suspicious;
    • keep client identification and beneficial ownership information, as well as the purpose and intended nature records, up-to-date;
    • reassess your client’s risk level based on their transactions and activities; and
    • determine if the transactions and activities are consistent with what you know about your client;
  • keep a record of the measures you take to monitor your business relationships and the information you obtain as a result.

 This change in definition also means that ongoing monitoring must be applied for the following purposes:

  1. detecting any transactions that are required to be reported;
  2. keeping client identification information and the information up to date;
  3. reassessing the level of risk associated with the client’s transactions/activities; and
  4. determining whether transactions or activities are consistent with the information obtained about their client, including the risk assessment of the client.

PEP

The amendments will require real estate developers, brokers, and sales representatives to make a Politically exposed persons (PEP) determination when they enter into a business relationship (as defined above) with a client.

In addition, they will also be required to take reasonable measures to determine whether a client from whom they receive an amount of CAD 100,000 or more is a PEP.

If a positive determination is made, the following records must be kept:

  1. the office or position, and the organization or institution, in respect of which the person is determined to be a politically exposed foreign person, a politically exposed domestic person or a head of an international organization, or a family member of, or a person who is closely associated with, one of those persons;
  2. the date of the determination; and
  3. the source, if known, of the person’s wealth.

Beneficial Ownership

The amendments will require real estate developers, brokers, and sales representatives to comply with existing beneficial ownership requirements that apply to other reporting entities.

This means when identifying an entity, a reporting entity needs to collect the following information for all Directors and individuals who own or control, directly or indirectly, 25% or more of the organization:

  • Their full legal name;
  • Their full home address; and
  • Information establishing the ownership, control, and structure of the entity.

A record of the reasonable measures to confirm the accuracy of the information, when it is first obtained and in the course of ongoing monitoring of business relationships, must be retained.

We’re Here To Help

If you would like assistance in updating your compliance program and processes, or have any questions related to the changes, please get in touch!

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