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Canada’s Proposed AML Changes for MSBs

What’s Old is New Again, Well Updated

On June 9th, 2018, draft amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and its enacted regulations (there are five separate regulations that we’re going to collectively call regulations here for simplicity’s sake). This article is intended to give a high-level summary of the proposed amendments as they relate to Money Services Businesses (MSBs).

This article should not be considered advice (legal, tax or otherwise). That said, any of the content shared here may be used and shared freely – you don’t need our permission. While we’d love for content that we’ve written to be attributed to us, we believe that it’s more important to get reliable information into the hands of community members (meaning that if you punk content that we wrote, we may think you’re a jerk but we’re not sending an army of lawyers).

Finally, we want to encourage the community to discuss the proposed changes and submit meaningful feedback for policy makers. The comment period for this draft is 90 days. After this, the Department of Finance takes the feedback to the bat cave and drafts a final version of the amendments. From the time that the final version is published, the draft indicates that there will be 12 months of transition to comply with the new requirements.

♬The Times Regulations Are Changing♬

Foreign MSBs

Currently, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) has issued a policy interpretation (PI-5594) in August of 2013, which states that a “real and substantial connection” to Canada must be present for an entity to be required to register as an MSB with FINTRAC.  A “real and substantial connection” was defined in the interpretation as having one or more of the following:

  • Whether the business is incorporated in Canada;
  • Whether the business has agents in Canada;
  • Whether the business has physical locations in Canada; and/ or
  • Whether the business maintains a bank account or a server in Canada.

The draft amendments introduce a new definition, which is “Foreign Money Services Business” that means anyone serving Canadian customers or entities in Canada is now subject to all Canadian requirements no matter where they are located.  Throughout the proposed changes, where there is a reference to money services businesses, there is also a reference to foreign money services businesses.  This will be significant to MSBs who operate non-face-to-face in the online marketplace and do not reside in Canada.

Non-Face-To-Face Customer Identification

Currently, there is a requirement that when customers are identified using the dual process method, the document and/or data that you collect is in its “original” format. This has been interpreted to mean that if the customer receives a utility bill in the mail, they must send you the original paper (not scanned or copied) document. The word “original” will be replaced with “authentic” (meaning that so long as you believe that the utility bill is a real utility bill for that person, it doesn’t need to be the same piece of paper that they received in the mail).

In addition, there are provisions that would allow reporting entities to rely on the identification conducted previously by other reporting entities. If this method is used to identify a customer, the reporting entity must immediately obtain the identification information from the other reporting entity and have a written agreement in place requiring the entity doing the identification to provide the identification verification within 3 days of the request.

Reporting EFTs of $10,000 or More

If you conduct international remittance transactions at the request of your customers, the requirement to report transactions of $10,000 or more will now be your responsibility, not your financial services provider.

The proposed change removes the language commonly known as the “first in, last out” rule.  This means that the first person/entity to ‘touch’ the funds for transactions incoming to Canada or the last person/entity to ‘touch’ the funds for a transaction outgoing from Canada had the reporting obligation (as long as the prescribed information was provided to them).

The update will change the reporting obligation to whoever maintains the customer relationship. So if you initiate a transaction at your customer’s request (outgoing transaction) or provide final receipt of payment to your customer (incoming transaction), it will be your obligation to report that transaction to FINTRAC.

For example, if the flow of the instructions for payment were as follows:

Currently, the reporting obligation of the outgoing EFT would fall to the bank in Canada.  With the draft updates, the reporting obligation would now fall to the MSB in Canada, because they have the relationship with the customer initiating the transaction.

 

Third Party Determination

Currently, the obligation to determine whether a third party is involved in a transaction relates to Large Cash Transactions.  The proposed changes would include the obligation to make a third party determination for all EFTs of $10,000 or more.  This would also require similar record keeping obligations as a third party determination under the current Large Cash Transaction records.

Suspicious Transaction Reporting

Currently, if a reporting entity has reasonable grounds to suspect that a transaction or attempted transaction is related to money laundering or terrorist financing, a report must be submitted to FINTRAC within 30 days of the date that a fact was discovered that caused the suspicion. This change appeared in the last round of amendments that came into force last year, and the proposed new wording would be another significant change:

The person or entity shall send the report to the Centre within three days after the day on which measures taken by them enable them to establish that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the transaction or attempted transaction is related to the commission of a money laundering offence or a terrorist activity financing offence.

This means that a report would be due three days after the reporting entity conducts an investigation or does something that allows them to reach the conclusion that there are reasonable grounds to suspect.

Information Included In Reports to FINTRAC

Certain information is required in reports to FINTRAC. Even where information is marked as being optional, if a reporting entity has the information, it becomes mandatory to include it. Some of the additional proposed data fields are:

  • every reference number that is connected to the transaction,
  • type of device used by person who makes request online,
  • number that identifies device,
  • internet protocol address (IP address) used by device,
  • person’s user name, and
  • date and time of person’s online session in which request is made.

These fields may require significantly more data to be included in reports, especially for transactions that are conducted online.

Ongoing Compliance Training

Currently, there are five required elements of a Canadian AML compliance program, but there is soon to be a sixth.  Before you get too worried, it’s not that major.  The change is specific to your ongoing compliance training obligations, which says you must institute and document a plan for your ongoing compliance training program and the delivery of the training.  Basically, in your AML compliance program documentation, you need to provide a description of your training program for at least the next year and how the training will be delivered. Many MSBs have already implemented this best practice.

Risk Assessment Obligations

With the recent addition of the “New Technologies and Developments” category to the Risk-Based Approach requirements, the next logical progression has be added.  The updates include the obligation to assess the money laundering and terrorist financing risk of any new technology before implementation.  Meaning, if you are looking to take your business online and are going to use this fancy, new non-face-to-face ID system, you had better take careful inventory of where your risks are and be sure the appropriate controls have been put in place before going live. Much like the training plan, many MSBs have already implemented this best practice.

Virtual Currency

The draft updates also include major changes related to virtual currency. “Dealers in virtual currencies’ would be regulated as MSBs. New record keeping and reporting obligations would apply to all reporting entities that accept payment in virtual currency, or send virtual currency on behalf of their customers.

For more information on updates specific to virtual currency, please check out our full article.

What Next

If you’ve read this far, congratulations and thank you!

We hope that you will contribute your thoughts and comments. You can do this by contacting the Department of Finance directly. Their representative on this file is:

Lynn Hemmings

Acting Director General

Financial Systems Division

Financial Sector Policy Branch

Department of Finance

90 Elgin Street

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0G5

Email: fin.fc-cf.fin@canada.ca

If you would like assistance drafting a submission, or have questions that you would like Outlier to answer, please get in touch!

If you are interested in sharing your comments with the Canadian MSB Association (and we highly encourage you to do so) please email luisa@global-currency.com. She will have more information on the industry group’s submission and consultation process.

FINTRAC Examination Results for MSBs

The Canadian Money Services Business Association (CMSBA) recently held their Spring Training events in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto.  The list of speakers included MSB industry professionals, as well as representatives from regulators including the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).  For a full synopsis of the Montreal and Toronto events, click here.  FINTRAC presented excellent statistical data about how MSBs have fared in examinations conducted between April 2011 and July 2014.  So how are MSBs faring?  Very well overall. 

ZDE FINTRAC 2008-2013

Data obtained through a freedom of information request indicates that almost 25% of MSBs examined between 2008 and 2013 have not had any deficiencies.

How Does FINTRAC Decide Who Is Examined?

FINTRAC considers several factors when deciding which reporting entities (REs) will be examined.

  • Concurrent Examinations: examinations conducted in tandem with the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI). This is applicable to federally regulated financial entities (FRFEs) like banks.
  • Market Share: The largest reporting entities in Canada (because the larger an organization is, the more critical the risk of non-compliance will be);
  • Cyclical: Coverage of a whole industry (this seemed to apply most to Casinos).
  • Follow-Up: Subsequent examinations based, with an emphasis on the resolution of deficiencies found in previous examination(s) to ensure remediation. FINTRAC noted that although it is no longer a requirement to submit a formal action plan to FINTRAC, it is a best practice for REs to document (and update) an action plan internally.
  • Risk: FINTRAC’s evaluation of the RE’s risk, based on a broad selection criteria, such as money laundering and terrorist financing vulnerabilities, the likelihood of non-compliance and industry trends.
  • Theme-Based: Related to specific intelligence about a RE or type of business that indicates there may be an elevated risk of non-compliance, money laundering vulnerability or terrorist financing vulnerability.

Methodology & Analysis

FINTRAC’s statistical analysis of MSB adherence to the requirements laid out in the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and its regulations is broken down by percentage, the results of the exams conducted that were fully compliant, partially compliant and non-compliant.  These are colour coded:

  • Green: fully compliant (no deficiencies were observed),
  • Yellow: partially compliant (there was something in place, but the MSB missed something), and
  • Red: non-compliant (in most cases, there was nothing in place or a reporting timeframe was missed).

Overall examination results have been positive.

Overview

It’s noteworthy that if FINTRAC has, as of 2014, found something during an examination that is considered ‘immaterial’, it’s not cited.  For example, in a large sample, if there are two client addresses that appear to be PO boxes, but all other client addresses were complete and in acceptable formats, there may not be a citation.  In these cases, FINTRAC may inform the RE verbally, but it will not be part of the formal ‘findings’ letter.

Compliance Officer

MSBs are required to have a Compliance Officer (a person that is responsible for overseeing the AML & CTF compliance program).  The appointment of the Compliance Officer must be documented in writing.  FINTRAC staff chided that this is likely the easiest area to achieve a fully compliant result in examinations.  MSB examination results certainly reflected this.

CO Chart

From a total of 612 MSB examinations considered, 608 MSBs were fully compliant.

Only four MSBs were deemed to be non-compliant.  It was noted that these were generally new market entrants that did not appear to understand Canadian AML & CTF compliance requirements.

Policies and Procedures

MSBs are required to have policies and procedures.  Policies describe the MSB’s regulatory obligations, while procedures describe what the MSB is doing to meet those requirements.  These must be documented, in writing, and the procedures must cover both staff and agents (if the MSB has agents).

PP Chart

From a total of 765 MSB examinations considered, 477 MSBs were fully compliant.

In 230 examinations, MSBs were deemed to be partially compliant.  Common errors included:

  • The omission of the 24-hour rule (specific descriptions of how the MSB determined whether or not reportable transactions had occurred over a 24 hour period),
  • Third party determinations (specific descriptions of when an MSB must determine if there is a third party involved, as well as what information needs to be collected and recorded), and
  • Politically exposed foreign person (PEFP) determinations (specific descriptions of when an MSB must determine if their client is a PEFP, and if so, what information needs to be collected/recorded. There is also a requirement that senior management signoff on the account within 30 days of the determination).

A total of 55 MSBs did not have any documented policies or procedures. In some cases, FINTRAC noted that there appeared to be processes in place, but that these were not documented in writing.

Training

MSBs are required to have an ongoing training program. The training program must be documented (who, what, where, when and how) and delivered to all staff and agents on an annual basis, at minimum.

Training Chart

From a total of 487 MSB examinations considered, 346 were fully compliant.

In 63 examinations, MSBs were deemed to be partially compliant.  Common errors included:

  • Interviews conducted with staff during an examination that evidenced a misunderstanding of the requirements (during an exam, FINTRAC will interview random staff members related to regulatory requirements to ensure training effectiveness)

In 78 examinations, MSBs did not have any training in place, or if they did, it was not documented.

Among the training options available to MSBs, we’re most excited about a relatively new offering from TAMLO that includes fast paced and visually stunning video content, as well as testing and tracking tools for Compliance Officers.

AML Compliance Effectiveness Review

MSBs are required to complete an AML Compliance Effectiveness Review once every two years.  The review must cover all policy and procedure documentation, as well as operational testing to ensure procedures are being properly followed.

2YR Chart

From a total of 722 MSB examinations considered, 412 were fully compliant.

In 101 examinations, MSBs were deemed to be partially compliant.  Where MSBs missed the mark was typically because they did not respect the two year cycle.  Other common errors included:

  • Only reviewing the policy documents with no operational testing of whether they are being followed (the policy document tells staff and agents what to do. Procedures tell them how to do it.  MSBs must be sure they are testing whether staff and agents are adhering to the procedures).

In 209 examinations, MSBs had not conducted an effectiveness review or could not provide evidence of one taking place.

Risk Assessment

MSBs are required to assess the risk that their business could be used for money laundering or terrorist financing.  The risk assessment must include four key components:

  • Products, services and delivery channels;
  • Geography;
  • Customers; and
  • Any other relevant factors.

Risk must be assessed and scored, and mitigated by appropriate controls.

RA Chart

From a total of 720 MSB examinations considered, 432 were fully compliant.

In 158 examinations, MSBs were deemed to be partially compliant.  The main issue was failing to include one of the four required elements. In some cases, a risk assessment was in place, but the documentation was not sufficient in assessing the MSB’s risk and controls.

In 129 examinations, MSBs had no evidence of a risk assessment.

FINTRAC noted that additional industry-specific risk assessment guidance is expected to be published later this year.

MSB Registration

MSBs are required to register with FINTRAC, as well as update their information within 30 days if there are any changes to business activities, banking or agent information.

MSB Reg Chart

From a total of 591 MSB examinations considered, 230 were fully compliant.

In this category, no partially compliant ratings were provided (the MSB registration was either complete, accurate and up to date, or it was deemed to be non-compliant).

In 361 examinations, MSBs were deemed to be non-compliant.  Most issues were due to a failure to update information when something within the business had changed or a failure to list all business activities. For example, the MSB registration may indicate that an MSB only performed foreign exchange in a case where remittance services were also provided.

Client Identification

MSBs are required to identify their clients in certain situations.  There are prescribed methods for completing this both in person and non-face-to-face (NF2F), and the identification document (ID) information must be recorded.

Client ID Chart

From a total of 796 MSB examinations considered, 621 were fully compliant.

In 64 examinations, MSBs were deemed to be partially compliant.  Common errors included:

  • Unacceptable ID (such as health card in Ontario);
  • Accepting ID that was expired at the time of the transaction (identification documents must be valid, or not expired, at the time they are reviewed);
  • Failing to record the prescribed details of the ID used (when reviewing a client’s ID, MSBs must keep a record of certain prescribed information); and
  • In Non-Face-To-Face Identification situations, only using one method, or using an unacceptable combination of methods (when identifying a customer who is not physically present, there are prescribed methods of how this is to be accomplished).

In 111 examinations, MSBs were non-compliant with client identification requirements.

Record Keeping

MSBs are required to keep certain records related to transactions and client identification.  These records must be stored in a manner that they can be accessed in the event they are requested, and must be maintained for at least five years.

RK Chart

From a total of 811 MSB examinations considered, 470 were fully compliant.

In 300 examinations MSBs were deemed to be partially compliant.  In these cases, record keeping was taking place but elements of the record keeping requirements were being overlooked.  Common issues included:

  • Missing telephone numbers;
  • Vague occupation information (for example “manager” or “worker”);
  • PO boxes recorded as customer addresses;
  • Missing postal codes;
  • Third party determinations that were incomplete; and
  • Payment methods for incoming and outgoing payments.

In 41 examinations, MSBs were non-compliant with record keeping requirements.

Third Party Determinations

MSBs are required to make a third party determination in certain prescribed circumstances, as well as collect and record certain information (name, address, date of birth, occupation and relationship to your client) about the third party.

TPD Chart

The total number of MSBs included in the review was not provided, with the statement: “there was not enough information available to conduct reasonable analysis”.  However, the total number of non-compliant MSBs was 6, indicating that approximately 600 MSB examinations were considered in this sample.

FINTRAC Reporting

When FINTRAC assesses reporting obligations, it uses the internal acronym “QTV”, which stands for quality, timing and volume.  Quality refers to the information in the report, specifically, if the report has all the required information.  Timing simply means, was the report filed within the designated timeframe.  Volume is slightly more complicated, but mainly refers to the amount of reports you have filed compared to your previous submissions.  It was noted that typically, where MSBs were deemed partially compliant, it was due to the quality.  Where non-compliance was related to the timing.

Electronic Fund Transfers Reports

MSBs are required to submit electronic funds transfer (EFT) reports to FINTRAC within 5 business days from the date the transaction took place.  An EFT includes the international transfer of CAD 10,000 or more, either in a single transaction, or multiple transactions within a 24-hour period.

EFT Chart

From a total of 434 MSB examinations considered, 165 were fully compliant.

In 87 examinations, MSBs were deemed to be partially compliant. MSBs were typically failing to include all required information, such as:

  • Phone number;
  • Date of birth; or
  • Postal code.

It is noteworthy that while not all fields are marked as required in F2R, all fields must be filled in if the MSB has recorded the information.

In 182 examinations, MSBs were deemed non-compliant, with most not reporting the EFTs within the specified time frame, and a small portion missing EFT reports.

Large Cash Transaction Reports

MSBs are required to submit large cash transaction (LCT) reports to FINTRAC within 15 calendar days from the date of the transaction, if the transaction was CAD 10,000 or more in cash, either in a single transaction, or multiple transactions within a 24-hour period.

LCTR Chart

From a total of 428 MSB examinations considered, 232 were fully compliant.

In 104 examinations, MSBs were deemed to be partially compliant.  MSBs were typically failing to include all required information, such as:

  • Occupation;
  • Date of birth;
  • Postal code; or
  • Type of ID used to identify the client.

In 92 examinations, MSBs were non-compliant, with most not reporting the LCTs within the specified time frame, and a small portion missing LCT reports.

Suspicious Transaction Reports

MSBs are required to submit suspicious transaction reports (STRs) and attempted suspicious transaction reports (ASTRs) to FINTRAC within 30 calendar days from the date the transaction is deemed suspicious by the Compliance Officer.

STR Chart

From a total of 285 MSB examinations considered, 262 were fully compliant.

In 14 examinations, MSBs were deemed to be partially compliant.  In these cases, MSBs were typically failing to include all required information.

In 9 examinations, MSBs were non-compliant.  Failing to file STRs carries relatively sever penalties, as the Canadian intelligence community relies on this type of reporting to build cases.  Where items are escalated as being potentially suspicious (either by staff or a transaction monitoring system), MSBs should always document the reason that these items are deemed not to be suspicious if no STR or ASTR reporting is completed.

Need a Hand?

If you are an MSB that needs compliance assistance (or a bank that wants assistance in setting up and maintaining a compliance regime that effectively manages MSB related risk), please contact us.

 

 

 

Micro Deposits & Micro Withdrawals

The Big DisclaimerAmber looking at laptop blank screen

We’re not lawyers and nothing that we write should be considered a legal opinion. Whether or not a solution will be acceptable to your regulators will always depend on your implementation and documentation – please contact us if you need help with either.

Background

There are a limited number of ways for Canadian reporting entities to identify individuals without meeting face to face. Previously, we have sought opinions from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) on whether or not micro deposits and micro withdrawals could be used to confirm a customer’s identity. Until recently, the answer had been no. We reached out to FINTRAC again on the issue after learning that technology had evolved in a way that could meet the requirements. We’re pleased to share with you that FINTRAC is of the opinion that – given the right technology conditions – micro deposits and micro withdrawals can indeed be used to confirm a customer’s identity.

Confirmation Of A Deposit Account

The methods that can be used to confirm a customer’s identity are listed in Schedule 7 of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations (PCMLTFR). (Since this post was written, Schedule 7 has been repealed and replaced by FINTRAC’s Methods to Identify Individuals). The “Confirmation of a Deposit Account Method” involves confirming that the person has a deposit account (this means a chequing or savings type of account) with a Canadian financial entity (this means a bank, credit union or caisse populaire). To use this method, reporting entities must keep a record of the name of the financial entity where the account is held, the account number and the date of the confirmation.

The key elements of this method involve determining that the account belongs to the person that you are trying to identify and determining that the account is indeed a chequing or savings type of account.

Micro Deposits and Micro Withdrawals

Previously, micro deposits and micro withdrawals were viewed as failing on both of these key elements. Confirming the amount of a micro transaction proved that a person had access to the account, but not that they owned the account. It was also viewed as impossible to determine the type of account (for instance the account may have been a line of credit that had a similar account number structure).

Fortunately, technology has advanced and some payment processors are able to conduct name matching (in some cases, payments are even stopped if there isn’t a match) as well as the type of account. Not all payment processors may have the capabilities, but if you’re looking for a way to automate some of your non face-to-face customer identification, this could be an option.

Implementation Checklist

We’ve broken down the implementation into seven key questions. If you’re able to answer yes in each case, you’re likely to be ready to implement micro deposits or micro withdrawals as an identification method.

  1. Does my payment processor conduct name matching (our client’s name against the account being debited or credited) and what confirmation do we receive of a match?
  2. Is our system set up to keep a record that demonstrates that the name was matched?
  3. Does my payment processor have access to the account type when an account is being debited or credited and can they pass that information to us and/or confirm for us that the account is a deposit account?
  4. Is our system set up to keep a record of the type of account or confirmation that the account is a deposit account?
  5. Is our system set up to keep a record of the name of the financial entity where the account is held?
  6. Is our system set up to keep a record of the account number?
  7. Is our system set up to keep a record of the date of the confirmation?

In addition to this list, you should also give some thought to what happens when identification fails (for example if the name doesn’t match or the account isn’t the right type). You’ll need to consider an alternative way to identify your client, and you probably don’t want their account stuck in limbo.

Need a Hand?

If you want to be certain that you’re meeting the standard described in this blog, or just someone to chat with to make sure that you’re on the right track please contact us.

Full Text Response

Good afternoon Ms. Scott,

Thank you for contacting the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Canada’s independent agency responsible for the collection, analysis, assessment and disclosure of information in order to assist in the detection, prevention, and deterrence of money laundering and financing of terrorist activities in Canada and abroad.

You indicated, “some payment providers have the capacity to match the customer’s name to the name on the account (and will not process transactions if there is not a match) and return information about the type of account to which the transaction was pushed.”

In light of this, you have asked whether micro-withdrawals and/or micro-deposits would be acceptable for use as confirmation of a deposit account provided that:

(a) there was a confirmed name match; and

(b) the account type was confirmed as a deposit account.

Subparagraph 64(1)(b)(ii) of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations (PCMLTFR) states that non-face-to-face identification can be done by using a combination of identification methods as set out in Part A of Schedule 7, the confirmation of deposit account method being one. This method of ascertaining a person’s identity consists of confirming that the person has a deposit account with a financial entity, other than an account referred to in section 62 of the PCMLTFR. For the deposit account method, paragraph 67(c) of the PCMLTFR requires that the client name, the deposit account number, the financial entity name, and the date of the confirmation be recorded. Therefore, if the payment provider confirms the client name, the deposit account number, the financial entity name, and the date of the confirmation, then yes, the micro-withdrawals and/or micro-deposits is an acceptable means to confirm a deposit account with a financial entity as per Part A of Schedule 7 of the PCMLTFR, and would satisfy one of the two combination methods required.

Please note that FINTRAC does not endorse nor advertise any products, companies, or providers of consumer information.

I trust this information will be of assistance.

FINTRAC Releases Policy Positions

Amber looking at laptop FINTRAC screenFrom the time that we launched, we at Outlier have believed strongly that information should be free.   When we have received information from regulators or other government agencies that we believe could be useful to our friends and clients, we’ve posted that information on our blog, making the information accessible without cost. This has lead us to make inquiries with agencies including the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). Most recently, we’ve requested access to all of the policy positions that FINTRAC has provided from 2008 to the present date. As a consequence of this request, FINTRAC will be releasing this data to the public in the near future.

You can read FINTRAC’s confirmation letter here.

00047 – signed reply letter

The Big Disclaimer

The information that follows is based on our requests and conversations with FINTRAC. We are not lawyers and do not present any of our content as legal advice. If you feel that we’ve missed something vital, or misrepresented an important point, please feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to correct it.

FINTRAC Has Gone Public

Policy positions are statements that FINTRAC has made about how the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and its enacted regulations (Regulations) should be applied. These are the “opinion” or “position” of the regulator (similar to the guidelines released by FINTRAC), intended to assist reporting entities in complying with the law. Like guidelines, they are subject to change and do not carry the force of law – but do have the ability to be powerful tools for reporting entities.

We applaud FINTRAC’s decision to make this information available to the public and look forward to reviewing the publications!

You can see the initial publication here (scroll down to the FINTRAC Policy Interpretations section).

What It Means For Your Business

Reporting entities should review the policy positions when they are released and look for guidance that can be applied in refining their anti money laundering (AML) and counter terrorist financing (CTF) compliance programs.  FINTRAC has confirmed that “sanitized, non-repetitive, versions” of the policy interpretations positions will be made public on an ongoing basis.  Historical policy interpretations (from 2008 to the present date) are expected to be published via FINTRAC’s website in December this year.

Obsolete Policy Positions

We have received as part of our initial information request a list of policy positions that FINTRAC considers to be obsolete (no longer accurate or relevant). While these are less useful to most reporting entities than current policy positions, it may be useful for reporting entities to review this content to determine whether they are relying on information that FINTRAC no longer holds true. You can access this information using the link below.

Obsolete Policy Positions

Need a Hand?

If you have questions about AML or CTF compliance, including what a policy position might mean for your business, please contact us for more information.

FINTRAC EFT Reporting Clarification

We’ve recently had quite a few conversations with our clients and friends about electronic fund transfer (EFT) reporting.

For entities that EFT 10Kare required to report EFTs, any amount valued at CAD 10,000 or more that is sent out of Canada or received from outside of Canada on behalf of a customer is reportable to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) within 5 business days.  The question that keeps coming up relates to situations that have multiple senders or beneficiaries.

For example:

When Jaques (your customer in Canada) sends the equivalent of CAD 12,000 to his aunt Sally in Europe, this is clearly reportable as an EFT.

But

What if instead of sending the whole amount to his aunt Sally, Jacques instead send three transactions, each equivalent to CAD 4,000 to each of his nephews, Ralph, Jean and Morty?

After hearing different answers from different people, we thought it best to get a policy clarification from FINTRAC.  You can see the full text of that question, and FINTRAC’s answer below.

Outgoing EFTs With Multiple Beneficiaries Are Reportable

In the case that we mentioned above, Jacques’ transactions would be reportable EFTs, provided that all of the transactions happened within the same 24 hour period.  In this case, 3 reports would be sent, adding up to the total amount (which is over CAD 10,000).

Incoming EFTs From Multiple Senders Are Reportable

It stands to reason that if you receive multiple EFTs of behalf of the same beneficiary, the same rules would apply.

In the example above, for instance, let’s say that the money sent to Jacques’ nephews was a loan.  All of the nephews pay pack the loan at the same time, and you receive 3 EFTs for Jacques, each from a different sender, with a value of CAD 4,000 each (CAD 12,000 in total for the three EFTs).  These are also reportable, provided that the transactions all occurred within the same 24-hour period.

What Does It Mean If You’ve Interpreted the Reporting Requirements Differently?

In some cases, this may mean updates to your IT systems, to allow you to detect transactions that are received on behalf of the same beneficiary, or sent on behalf of the same sender.

It may also mean looking back at your transaction data, in order to figure out whether or not there are any EFTs that should have been reported to FINTRAC that were missed.  If this is the case, we recommend that you consider filing a voluntary disclosure with FINTRAC to proactively let them know about the issue, and what you’re doing to fix it.  If this is the case, we’ve created some free resources to help make this process as simple as possible.

Need a Hand?

If you’re not sure what to do next or you need extra hands to review your IT system updates or a package that you’re submitting to FINTRAC, please contact us.

 

Full Text of FINTRAC’s Response

Amber, 

     I am writing further to your e-mail of May 13, 2014, concerning how to report an electronic funds transfer sent by one client but to

multiple beneficiaries.

     As you know, pursuant to the /Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations/ (PCMLTFR),  reporting entities are required to report to FINTRAC electronic funds transfers valued at $10,000 or more (in the course of a single transaction) at the request of a client, along with the information referred to in Schedule 2 or 5, as the case may be; and the receipt from outside Canada of electronic funds transfers, sent at the request of a client, of $10,000 or more in the course of a single transaction, along with the information referred to in Schedule 3 or 6, as the case may be.

     When a client requesting an EFT conducts a transaction with the initial amount of $10,000 or more and instructs that it be divided between multiple beneficiaries, the EFT is still being carried out by one client, and the EFT must be reported using multiple reports (one per beneficiary).  The key to determining the reporting requirement is the instruction given by the client. To better explain this, I have provided two examples below:

     1)  A client instructs that $15,000 be sent via EFT to different beneficiaries, $5000 each. In this instance, the reporting entity would be required to send three different reports, one for each beneficiary, for a total of the $15,000 that the client requested be sent via EFT. When submitting the reports, the 24-hour-rule indicator must be selected, although this is not considered to be a single transaction of $10,000 or more as defined under section 3 of the PCMLTFR.

     OR

     2)  A client instructs that $5000 be sent to beneficiary subsequent $5000 be sent to beneficiary B and a third $5000 be sent to beneficiary C. In this instance, the 24- hour rule must be considered.

The 24-hour rule applies if the reporting entity knows, or an employee or senior officer knows, that the transactions were made within 24 consecutive hours of each other, by or on behalf of the same individual or entity. It applies only to transactions that are under $10,000. If a transaction is for $10,000 or more, it is reportable as one transaction.  As such, if the reporting entity knows that the first two EFTs of $5000 each were made by, or on behalf of, the same person, then the reporting entity would be required to submit two reports under the 24-hour rule, as these two EFTs total $10,000.    

I trust this information will be of assistance.

Best regards

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