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Preparing For An iGaming AML Compliance Effectiveness Review

Written with Heidi Unrau

 

iGaming Ontario is celebrating two years in the province. But before your online gaming (iGaming) business can launch, you must register with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). This government body regulates gaming activities in Ontario to ensure the industry operates above board and does not become a breeding ground for illicit activity. iGaming refers to casino-like games that are played over the internet such as Blackjack, Roulette, Poker, and Slot Machines.

As part of the registration process, you must establish an anti-money laundering (AML) program that complies with the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and passes a gap analysis, also known as an effectiveness test. If your AGCO registration is successful, your compliance responsibilities don’t stop there.

You must then sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and enter into an operating agreement with Internet Gaming Ontario (iGO). This watchdog organization oversees registered iGaming operators to make sure they consistently fulfill all regulatory obligations, including AML compliance. Here’s what to know about the role of AML in the iGaming registration process and how to set yourself up for long-term success.

Know Your AML Obligations For Registration

Anti-money laundering regulations are designed to prevent money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illegal activity, hence the name. If you plan to operate an iGaming business in Ontario, the AGCO requires you to comply with the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming. These standards include specific AML responsibilities to minimize illegal activity. They typically include, at a high level, but are not limited to:

  • Having documented policies & procedures
  • Designating a Compliance Officer
  • Establishing a training program for all relevant employees
  • Conducting audits & reviews
  • Identifying & verifying customers
  • Risk ranking customers
  • Monitoring transactions
  • Transaction reporting
  • Record keeping

Your AML program must pass a gap review, which is essentially an effectiveness test. This test is a mandatory part of your AGCO registration process to demonstrate that your AML compliance program meets regulatory standards and can function effectively once your platform is live.

Your iGO Operating Agreement

After successfully registering with AGCO, the next step is to execute an operating agreement with its subsidiary, iGO. This organization is responsible for overseeing and managing how private iGaming operators conduct themselves within the province of Ontario.

The iGO registration process requires you to provide a package of documents, templates, and confirmations related to your anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing responsibilities. You’ll be teaming up with iGO’s AML department for this part and the entire process takes approximately two weeks.

Your iGO registration is very similar to the AML component of your AGCO registration. iGO requires you to document your AML policies and procedures as part of the registration process. This documentation should outline measures for preventing and detecting money laundering and terrorist financing activities on your iGaming platform.

You will also need to demonstrate compliance with Canadian AML regulations established by regulatory authorities and iGO as the conduct managing entity.

iGO & Compliance Effectiveness Reviews

Once your iGaming platform is live, you are required to submit to an AML effectiveness review by an independent third party every two years as part of your iGO compliance obligations. The purpose of a regular, recurring review is to assess how well your AML program is working, identify weaknesses, and determine whether your business meets requirements. It is also a test to see if your business is doing what it says it’s doing.

A good effectiveness review should mimic a full-scope FINTRAC examination. As Canada’s financial intelligence unit, FINTRAC has the right to audit regulated entities at any time. In this case, iGO would be the direct subject of the examination and they would contact individual operators for specific documentation if necessary.

An effectiveness review not only ensures you remain compliant in your day-to-day operations, it also ensures you’re prepared in the event iGO is examined by FINTRAC.

Scope of the Review

Ongoing effectiveness reviews can include, but are not limited to:

  • Interview staff handling transactions to assess their understanding of policies, procedures, and reporting requirements.
  • Review a sample of records to check compliance with client identification policies.
  • Examine agreements with agents/vendors and review sample information they use for client identification.
  • Check if suspicious transactions were reported to FINTRAC within the required timeframe.
  • Verify application of risk assessment in client records.
  • Assess adequacy and consistency of ongoing monitoring in client records.
  • Confirm implementation of enhanced measures for high-risk clients.
  • Ensure adherence to proper record-keeping procedures.
  • Review and update risk assessment to align with current operations.
  • Update policies and procedures to comply with legislative requirements and reflect current business practices.

After a Review

Once an effectiveness review is complete, the results must be presented to senior management for sign-off. It should include a summary of the findings, a remediation plan, and the status of required changes.

Choosing an AML Program Reviewer

The right AML program reviewer is foundational to the integrity and effectiveness of your compliance program. They should have a deep understanding of the Canadian anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing requirements as well as the specific risks unique to the iGaming industry.

Your chosen reviewer needs to provide a comprehensive and objective assessment of the effectiveness of your AML program, with a final report that identifies deficiencies and includes an action plan for improvement. Therefore, you want a reviewer with relevant experience conducting AML reviews for similar businesses.

Need a Hand?

If you would like to engage Outlier to conduct your AML Compliance Effectiveness Review, have questions about your obligation, or need help creating, reviewing, or updating your AML program, reach out to us today.

The FINTRAC Outage: Guide for AML Reporting Agencies

Written with Heidi Unrau

 

On March 2, 2024, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) experienced a major cyber incident. As a security precaution, FINTRAC has taken most of its reporting systems offline, including MSB registration. Canadian reporting entities remain responsible for all anti-money laundering (AML) requirements during the outage.

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are available for some reports, including large cash transaction reports (LCTRs), large virtual currency transaction reports (LVCTRs), and suspicious transaction reports (STRs), as of April 8, 2024.

Reporting entities that are not able to submit reports via API must do so once other systems are back online. In the interim, special processes for priority STR submission and other notifications have been established.

Watch for Official Guidance

It’s essential that you follow FINTRAC’s official communications regarding the outage. Outlier’s insights are meant to complement this directive, not replace it. The official word from FINTRAC remains the final authority on these matters.

It is recommended that all Canadian AML Compliance Officers sign up for FINTRAC’s mailing list to get the latest news from the regulator (if you are not signed up already).

Accessing FINTRAC’s APIs

As of April 8, 2024, FINTRAC APIs are currently available for:

  • LCTRs
  • LVCTRs
  • STRs

An API is a way for different computer programs to communicate with each other. To use FINTRAC’s APIs, reporting entities must first apply to register and be granted access by FINTRAC. The implementation of APIs for reporting will require the support of your technical team or software provider. Reporting via API is different from batch reporting (for those that use it) as the API provides a secure exchange of information that does not require the installation of batch-transmitting software.

For reporting entities that have not implemented API functionality, additional guidance has been provided by FINTRAC.

Priority STRs

For priority STRs with national security or other dangerous implications, FINTRAC has provided a dedicated email address and telephone number to help you with this (see below).

Please note that the CSIS and RCMP systems for Terrorist Property Reporting (TPR) are unaffected by the outage and remain operational.

Priority STR Submission Contact Info:

  • Email: STR-DOD@fintrac-canafe.gc.ca
  • Call Centre: 1-866-346-8722 (toll free)

Reporting entities that are unsure of whether or not an STR is considered a priority may first contact FINTRAC using the information above to determine whether this submission method should be used. It is expected that STRs submitted via this method will also be re-submitted once systems are back online.

No Late Reporting Penalties

FINTRAC has indicated that the regulator understands that late reporting is an inevitable consequence of the outage. Therefore, FINTRAC has indicated that reporting entities will not be penalized for late reporting (within reason). It is expected that reporting entities will submit reports promptly once systems are back online.

Fulfilling Reporting Obligations

During the outage, reporting entities are required to track all reportable transactions. Keep detailed records of transactions that could not be reported during the outage. This will ensure that all required transaction reports are accurately and efficiently submitted once systems are restored.

In addition to information about reportable transactions, reporting entities should keep detailed records of:

  • The outage timing (provides useful context that may factor into future audit and examination-related data analysis)
  • All late reports submitted
  • Time required to clear the backlog once systems become operational

At this time, FINTRAC has not indicated that reporting entities should submit a voluntary self-declaration of non-compliance (VSDONC) related to late reporting due to the current outage. However, if there is a reporting backlog that will take significant time to clear, this may be considered once the outage has been resolved.

No Paper Submissions!

FINTRAC has explicitly advised against submitting paper copies of reports during the outage. Once the issue has been resolved, electronic reporting through the appropriate channels will resume.

MSB Registration & Inquiries

In a recent update on May 17, 2024, FINTRAC introduced a new web form specifically for existing Money Services Businesses (MSBs). This form allows currently registered MSBs to renew, update, or cancel their registration easily. You can access the form here:

It does not appear that new MSB registrations can be completed at this time. MSB registration inquiries can be directed to:

Be Prepared & Stay Alert

Stay up to date on the latest FINTRAC communications to ensure compliance should directives change.

For critical reporting and MSB registration needs, use the designated emails and phone numbers provided by FINTRAC. Keep all communications clear, concise, and accurate with all the necessary information.

Key FINTRAC Contact Information

Issue Email Phone
New MSB Registration Inquiries MSBRegistration@fintrac-canafe.gc.ca n/a
Existing MSB Registration Renewals, Updates, or Cancellations https://fintrac-canafe.canada.ca/msb-esm/form/reg-eng n/a
Priority STR Reporting STR-DOD@fintrac-canafe.gc.ca 1-866-346-8722
General Inquiries guidelines-lignesdirectrices@fintrac-canafe.gc.ca n/a
API Support tech@fintrac-canafe.gc.ca n/a

Additional Resources

Below, you’ll find a slide deck presentation and a YouTube video with the same information in this article. You are welcome to use and distribute these resources:

Need a Hand?

If you have any questions or concerns, the team at Outlier Solutions are here to help. Please contact us.

Final Amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations – October 2023

Background

On October 11, 2023, final amendments to regulations under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act were published in the Canada Gazette. The most noteworthy changes fall under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations and the addition of a new regulation. This round of anticipated changes introduces the compliance requirements for armoured car companies and mortgage lending entities. Additionally, FINTRAC will now be able to charge businesses and individuals for the annual cost of its compliance program as part of its assessment of expenses funding model.

Other changes include the new requirements for correspondent banking relationships, and additional requirements related to the Money Services Business (MSB) registration.

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 in a combined document here.

What’s Changed?

From the draft regulations published back in February of this year, there have not been significant changes to the final publication. As expected, entities that collect currency, money orders, traveller’s cheques, or other similar negotiable instruments (except for cheques payable to a named person or entity) will be treated as a new category of MSB. With these changes, such providers will be subject to existing money services businesses requirements.

With respect to mortgage lenders (brokers responsible for mortgage origination, lenders responsible for underwriting the loan or supplying the funds, and administrators responsible for servicing the loan), they will now have to comply with AML compliance requirements imposed on reporting entities. Note the definition of a mortgage lender was changed slightly from the draft regulations, narrowing the scope of who is captured.

As part of the assessment of expenses funding model, the new Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada Assessment of Expenses Regulations will allow FINTRAC to pass on expenses, to reporting entities, that it incurs in the administration of the PCMLTFA. Note there have been some changes to the formula that will be used for assessment amounts. The base assessment amount for federally regulated banks, trust and loan companies, and life insurance companies will be based on their value of consolidated Canadian assets that excludes its subsidiary’s reported value of Canadian assets. Guidance related to how reporting entities will be charged has been issued and can be found here.

Please refer to our previous blog post that outlines details on the changes and the exact requirements that will come into force.

What Next?

Requirements for armoured car companies come into force on July 1, 2024, and October 1, 2024 for mortgage lending entities. Effective April 1, 2024, FINTRAC will commence recovering costs from the 2024–25 fiscal year.

In the meantime, FINTRAC will have to issue guidance related to cash transport and mortgage lending. Additionally, there may be FINTRAC policy interpretations that will no longer be able to be relied upon, as it relates to cash transport and mortgage lending.

While we await guidance, armoured car and mortgage lending entities should start working on developing their compliance program in anticipation of the respective in-force dates noted above.

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.

Ministerial Directives Related to Iran & LVCTRs

There have been a number of conversations floating around about FINTRAC Large Virtual Currency Transaction Reporting (LVCTR) obligations as it relates to transactions involving Iran, and potentially involving Iran, under the current Ministerial Directive (MD). While this is not a new requirement (LVCTRs were effective June 1, 2021 and the original MD became effective July 25, 2020), there has been clarification provided with regards to reporting, and what activities trigger which reports.

For background, Outlier Compliance Group wrote an article on what the Iran-related MD entails, so if you are not familiar with the requirements, we suggest starting there.

Existing Guidance

The existing MD guidance does not align with the information provided in a recent policy interpretation for reporting transactions involving Iran that generally are not otherwise reportable, such as a transaction below the reporting threshold. The current guidance says the following:

Any transaction involving the receipt of virtual currency (VC) for exchange to Iranian rial, or VC that is equivalent to an amount under the reporting threshold of $10,000 CAD must be reported using the LVCTR by:

    • Inserting the IR2020 code when using the LVCTR upload; or
    • Selecting IR2020 in the ‘Ministerial Directive’ field of the LVCTR.
    • Because the report is related to the MD, you must ensure that the information provided reflects a connection to Iran.

Recent Interpretation

On June 11, 2023, a policy interpretation was submitted to clarify FINTRAC’s expectations with regards to reporting VC transactions related to the Iran MD. A few specific scenarios were included to ensure an easily digestible response was provided. The portion below is the most noteworthy sections of the response from FINTRAC clarifying the expectation of reporting virtual currency transactions that are below the reporting threshold where there is a nexus to Iran:

To answer your question regarding other instances that could involve the receipt of VC originating from Iran in one or more transactions under the threshold, please refer to section 3) of the Ministerial Directive. It states that any transaction (originating from or bound for Iran) must be treated as a high-risk transaction for the purposes of subsection 9.6(3) of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA), and must be reported to FINTRAC. Where these transactions involve the receipt of VC but cannot be reported using an LVCTR, they must be reported using the Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) with the IR2020 code.  Only completed transactions can be reported through an STR if the only reason for reporting is that the transaction is originating from or bound for Iran. An attempted transaction should only be reported when you have reasonable grounds to suspect that the transaction is related to the attempted commission of a money laundering or terrorist activity financing offence. 

Further to section 3(a) of the Ministerial Directive, you need to look at a variety of elements when determining whether a transaction originates from or is bound for Iran because the circumstances of each transaction are different. The exchange of VC for Iranian rial is not the only circumstance in which a VC transaction may fall under the Ministerial Directive. After you’ve considered the facts, contexts and indicators of a transaction and you determine it is subject to the Ministerial Directive, you must determine if the transaction(s) should be reported using the LVCTR or STR, as described above.

I’ve provided the reporting information for the scenarios you presented in your email:

    1. Virtual currency that originates from an identified virtual currency exchange in Iran.
      • Report the transaction in the STR with code IR2020.
    2. Virtual currency that originates from a wallet address identified as being in or from Iran.
      • When the conductor, beneficiary or third party address details list Iran as the country, and the transaction is not a VC exchange to Iranian rial, report the transaction in the STR with code IR2020.
    3. Travel rule information from the receiving client (or from a participant in the travel rule network) that sent the virtual currency from an address associated with an Iranian virtual currency exchange, or a person or entity in Iran that is not captured under the Ministerial Directive.
      • If a VC transaction has travel rule information that indicates it originates from or is bound for Iran and it does not meet the LVCTR criteria for the Ministerial Directive, the transaction must be reported using the STR with code IR2020.

So What Do I Need To Do?

What is important to understand in this clarification, is the obligation to report every transaction that has a nexus to Iran, such as originating from a VC exchange in Iran, and how that is to be reported. Where a transaction is not otherwise reportable to FINTRAC via an LVCTR, it must be reported using a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) and the MD indicator IR2020 must be selected (we also suggest including IR2020 in the opening of the narrative in Section G). Transactions that are not otherwise reportable to FINTRAC include VC exchange transactions below the reporting threshold, as referenced in the response from FINTRAC.

Moving Forward

In order to ensure you are compliant with the MD obligation, a thorough lookback to June 1, 2021 for all VC transactions below the reporting threshold, that may have had a nexus with Iran, needs to be performed. Should transactions that should have been reported be found, a Voluntary Self-Disclosure of Non Compliance (VSDONC) should be submitted to FINTRAC. For more information on VSDONCs and how to complete one, please see our blog post on the topic.

Need a Hand?

If you are looking for help completing a lookback or would like a second set of eyes on a VSDONC, please feel free to contact us.

Proposed 2023 AML Changes: Mortgage Lenders and Armoured Car Services

Background

February seems to be the month for proposed legislative changes.

On February 18, 2023, draft amendments to the regulations under the Proceeds of Crime Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA), and a net-new draft regulation, were published in the Canada Gazette. If you’re the type that likes to read original legislative text, you can find it here. We (thanks Rodney) also created a redlined version of the regulations, with new content showing as tracked changes, which can be found here.

These changes are meant to renew and improve Canada’s anti-money laundering (AML) and Counter Terrorist Financing (CTF) regime, adapting to new money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF) risk. One of the most significant changes, in our opinion, is the introduction of two new regulated entity types, mortgage lenders and armoured car companies.

Currently, mortgages issued by financial entities are captured under the PCMLTFA but these amendments would make all entities involved in the mortgage lending process (brokers responsible for mortgage origination, lenders responsible for underwriting the loan, and administrators responsible for servicing the loan) reporting entities. The intent here is to level the playing field between regulated and unregulated mortgage lenders, and to deter misuse of the sector for illicit activities.

While the activity of transportation is not currently supervised for AML purposes per se, armoured car carriers provide services largely to regulated entities. Given the flow of funds that is typically seen in this sector, reconciliation and identification of the origin of funds can sometimes be challenging, and allows funds to move with some degree of anonymity, which is an ML/TF vulnerability.

The draft regulations also introduce new requirements for correspondent banking relationships, and additional requirements related to the Money Services Business (MSB) registration. There are also some technical amendments related to existing reporting requirements and changes related to Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs).

Lastly, a new regulation would introduce a prescribed formula for the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) to assess the expenses it incurs in the administration of the PCMLTFA against reporting entities. Such models are seen from other regulators, such as the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). Currently, FINTRAC is funded through appropriations.

In the following sections, we have summarized what we feel are the most important requirements to note.

Armoured Car Companies

The proposed changes would require a company that engages in “transporting currency or money orders, traveller’s cheques or other similar negotiable instruments” (except for cheques payable to a named person or entity) to be considered an MSB. As such, the following obligations will have to be met:

  • Development of a compliance program;
  • Maintaining an up-to-date MSB registration with FINTRAC;
  • Conducting compliance effectiveness reviews;
  • Reporting certain transactions;
  • Identifying customers;
  • Record keeping;
  • Risk ranking customers and business relationships;
  • Conducting transaction monitoring and list screening;
  • Conducting enhanced due diligence and transaction monitoring for high-risk customers and business relationships; and
  • Follow ministerial directives and transaction restrictions.

One record keeping obligation to note, which is new for armoured car companies, is the requirement to record the following information when transporting CAD 1,000 or more of cash or virtual currency, or CAD 3,000 or more in money orders or similar negotiable instruments:

  • The date and location of collection and delivery;
  • The type and amount of cash, virtual currency or negotiable instrument transported;
  • The name and address of the person or entity that made the request, the nature of their principal business/occupation and, in the case of an individual, their date of birth;
  • The name and address, if known, of each beneficiary;
  • The number of every account affected by the transport, the type of account, and the name of the account holder;
  • Every reference number that is connected to the transport, and has a function; equivalent to that of an account number; and
  • The method of remittance.

An additional requirement that will apply to armoured car companies is in relation to PEP determinations (existing PEP requirements for MSBs still apply). Specifically, a PEP determination is required whenever a person requests that the MSB transport more than CAD 100,000 in cash or virtual currency, or in an amount that is not declared.

Under the proposed regulations, there are some exemptions for reporting that are noteworthy. Large Cash and Large Virtual Currency reporting requirements will not apply where there is an agreement of transportation between:

  • The Bank of Canada and a person or entity in Canada;
  • Two financial entities;
  • Two places of business of the same person or entity; or
  • Canadian currency coins for purposes of delivery under the Royal Canadian Mint.

It is noteworthy, based on the definition, that there may be more than just armoured car companies that are captured under these new requirements. This will be clarified in guidance from FINTRAC that will follow publication of the legislation.

The requirements applicable to armoured car companies will come into force eight months after final publication in the Canada Gazette.

Mortgage Lending

The proposed regulations would require mortgage lenders, brokers, and administrators (mortgage participants) to put in place compliance regimes, similar to that of other regulated entities, which include the following:

  • Development of a compliance program;
  • Conducting compliance effectiveness reviews;
  • Reporting certain transactions;
  • Identifying customers;
  • Keeping records;
  • Risk ranking customers and business relationships;
  • Conducting transaction monitoring and list screening;
  • Conducting enhanced due diligence and transaction monitoring for high-risk customers and business relationships; and
  • Follow ministerial directives and transaction restrictions.

It is noteworthy, that many mortgage brokers already have existing voluntary AML compliance programs and already apply AML measures. This is in part due to various securities regulations and lending partners.

The requirements applicable to mortgage lending will come into force six months after final publication in the Canada Gazette.

Cost Recovery

As part of this round of regulatory changes, there is a net-new regulation, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada Assessment of Expenses Regulations. This regulation will allow FINTRAC to pass on expenses, to reporting entities, that it incurs in the administration of the PCMLTFA. Only the following prescribed entity types are affected by this:

  • Banks and authorized foreign banks;
  • Life insurance companies;
  • Trust and loan corporations; and
  • Every entity that made more than 500 threshold reports during the previous fiscal year.

The regulations provide a formula that FINTRAC would use to calculate the assessment amounts payable by reporting entities on the basis of their annual asset value, and the volume of all threshold transaction reports submitted. For clarity, threshold transaction reports include Large Cash Transaction Reports (LCTRs), Large Virtual Currency Transaction Reports (LVCTRs), Electronic Funds Transfer Reports (EFTRs), and Casino Disbursement Reports (CDRs).

The requirement would come into force on April 1, 2024. This means FINTRAC would commence recovering costs from the 2024-2025 fiscal year and forward.

Other Changes

Enhancing MSB registration

Under the proposed amendments, as part of MSB registration, MSBs would now need to include the telephone numbers and email addresses of its president, directors and every person who owns or controls 20% or more of the MSB. This is in addition to current required information. Additionally, the number of the MSB’s agents, mandataries and branches in each country will be added (currently, only those within Canada are required).

This requirement will come into force twelve months after final publication in the Canada Gazette.

Streamlining requirements for sending AMPs

Under the proposed amendments, FINTRAC would be allowed to serve a reporting entity solely by electronic means when issuing an AMP. Currently, FINTRAC would also have to send an additional copy by registered mail.

This requirement would come into force on registration.

What Next?

There is a 30 day comment period (ending March 20, 2023) for the proposed regulations. It is strongly recommended that industry, and potentially impacted companies, review carefully and provide feedback. Comments can be submitted online via the commenting feature after each section of the proposed changes, or via email directly to Julien Brazeau, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Financial Sector Policy Branch, Department of Finance, 90 Elgin Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5.

We’re Here To Help

If you have questions related to the proposed changes, or need help starting to plan, you can get in touch using the online form on our website, by emailing us directly at info@outliercanada.com, or by calling us toll-free at 1-844-919-1623.

Suspicious Transaction Reporting Updates

FINTRAC has published updated resources related to upcoming changes to suspicious transaction reports (STRs) on its Draft Documents page. This includes updated draft guidance on STRs, expected to come into force in September 2023.

While the updated forms are not yet in use, it is important that you communicate these changes to your information technology (IT) teams and service providers. The documentation published this week includes JSON schemas and API endpoints.

For reporting entities that complete STR reporting manually through FINTRAC’s online reporting portal, it is also important to familiarize yourself with updated structured reporting fields, including:

  • URL,
  • Type of device used,
  • Username,
  • Device identifier number,
  • Internet protocol address, and
  • Date and time in which online session request was made.

These can be reviewed in the draft STR form.

Of course, if you require assistance, Outlier Compliance is here to help, please contact us.

New Terrorist Financing Indicators

FINTRAC has published updated indicators related to terrorist activity financing.

These are subdivided into three broad types of violent extremism:

  • religiously motivated violent extremism (RMVE),
  • politically motivated violent extremism (PMVE), and
  • ideologically motivated violent extremism (IMVE).

Each subtype has distinct characteristics and indicators. While it can be tempting to think that these types of things don’t happen here, unfortunately, they can and do happen here in Canada. As a Compliance Officer, it’s important to think through where these indicators might be visible to you and your team.

All Canadian reporting entities must use this information to:

  • Update the indicators in training materials,
  • Update the indicators in policies and procedures, and
  • Update transaction monitoring mechanisms (where applicable) to detect relevant indicators.

Of course, if you require assistance, Outlier Compliance is here to help, please contact us

First AML Compliance Effectiveness Review Timing

As a company that gets to work with a lot of startups, and existing companies entering the Canadian market, we get to help folks understand the regulatory landscape in Canada. One of the required elements of a Canadian compliance program is an AML Compliance Effectiveness Review. These reviews must be completed every two years at a minimum. You can think of it like an audit, but for compliance.

The purpose of an effectiveness review is to determine whether your AML compliance program has gaps or weaknesses that may prevent your business from effectively preventing, detecting and deterring money laundering and terrorist financing. Recently, we have seen an increased focus on Effectiveness Reviews during FINTRAC examinations. Specifically, on whether the review really tested the effectiveness of the compliance program as a whole (not just what you say you’re doing, but also what you’re actually doing). This has led to FINTRAC examiners requesting the working papers for completed effectiveness reviews where the report did not clearly describe how the effectiveness was tested and assessed. This is the main reason Outlier has started providing our working papers with the final report. This also provides a pretty good reference point for making sure you are meeting your regulatory expectations.

First Time for Everything

In previous engagements, Outlier has operated on the theory that the clock for when your first review was due stemmed from the MSB’s FINTRAC registration date. However, we were incorrect. It wasn’t until a recent conversation where the registration date preceded any customer transactions by six months, that really spurred on an official clarification from the regulator. The trigger for the 2-year clock to start ticking is not registration but “a registered MSB is required to create a compliance program once it engages in one or more of the MSB-related activities.” This means that the clock starts ticking after the MSB has conducted their first transaction.

Here is a PDF version of the policy interpretation we received from FINTRAC that you can keep for your records.

Potential Corrections

If we have completed a review for you in the past that has a commencement date prior to your first customer transaction, please feel free to reach out so we can amend your report to the proper date.

Upcoming Effectiveness Reviews

While this article talks about your first review, you must also be sure to initiate all subsequent reviews within 2 years of the start date of your previous review. Please note that this is based on the previous commencement date, not the date of completion or issuance of the final report.

Need a Hand?

If you are looking for an idea of pricing for an upcoming review or have questions about a review that is currently underway, please feel free to contact us.

9 Years of Entrepreneurship


If you had told me ten years ago that I would be in the longest-running position in the history of my career, I wouldn’t have believed you. Back then, I was unhappy for various reasons, and while I had started to think about what I really wanted from my work life, I had yet to take some of the big steps to get there. I won’t go into the gory details of where I was or the situations that weren’t working for me. Suffice it to say that there was a lot that wasn’t working, and I didn’t know how to fix it… but I had some ideas.

If you’re sitting in a spot, like I was then, perhaps feeling a bit despairing and lost despite what many might consider your own success, this post is for you. It’s been written as a love letter, from the woman that I am today to the woman that I was then… Whether today you’re solving problems like a champion, just putting one foot in front of the other, or sitting on the couch thinking that you may want to get up – it’s all part of the journey.

Give yourself permission to name the things that you really want

Once, a former mentor (Lin, a founder of CU Training, now retired) literally gave me permission to take notes with coloured markers. The notes included cartoons of key points. I love to draw. It’s a great memory aid, but it’s something that I saw as being “unprofessional” and had trained myself out of…

This conversation got me thinking – what else hadn’t I given myself permission to write (or draw)? Were there things that I wasn’t giving words to?

Of course, there were.

In fact, there were a whole lot of things that I had been afraid, for one reason or another, to think too deeply about, let alone describe. So many of these things related to what I really wanted from life.

Write it down

This led to a trip to a shop in Victoria, BC, where I bought a beautiful notebook that I didn’t write anything in for a while. It would become the place where I wrote down what I wanted in life. This is the page from that book for “work.”

When I put pen to paper in this book, the rules are simple. I don’t beat myself up about what’s not working in my current state. I have a good think about what I really want, and I write it down. Whether it seems improbable or downright impossible, I write it down.

Looking back at this page, written over a year before my company, Outlier Compliance Group was a conscious thought, I can see its beginnings here.

Keep writing

I look back at and add to the old pages, building on the ideas there. It makes me smile to see where I’ve grown into myself and accomplished things that I thought impossible. I add new pages to the book.

It’s easier now to give myself permission to write than it was at first, but it’s still not easy! That’s okay. I think that’s part of how I know that I’m still growing and pushing myself.

Be open to opportunity

In the last decade, I’ve worked with amazing companies and entrepreneurs. I’ve consulted governments and NGOs. I’ve taught classes and presented at conferences around the world. I’ve made the type of career decisions and personal investments that have set me up to be secure in a way that I would have found unfathomable. Some of the people that I admire most in the world have become mentors and friends.

Sometimes, I think about where I was at various points in my life: living in poverty, in the foster care system, in very unhealthy work environments, and I wish that I could reach back into the past and let that version of me see the me that I am today… to let that version of me know that all of the hard work that I was doing would prepare me for opportunities that I wouldn’t have dared to dream of then.

The best part is that, eventually, success can become a virtuous cycle. The more opportunity I seize, the more seems to flow my way, and the more I am prepared to tackle… and the more that I am able to help others to help themselves along the way!

Take enough risk to get knocked down

This is not to say that it’s easy to seize opportunities, or that I don’t get knocked down from time to time. I do, and it’s not fun!

When something knocks me down, I try to remember that this is the price of “stepping into the ring.” Sometimes, I’ll get knocked down.

This is part of the risk-return curve; there’s no success without risk.

Get back up and do it again

Once, an interviewer presented me with a big list of leadership characteristics and asked me what the most important was to me. After reading the list, I asked if I could add another word to the list. That word is relentlessness, and I stand by it.

This is not to say that I keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, but rather that I learn, adjust tactics and pursue my goals with ardour.

If you can’t find it, build it

I think that everyone close to me had a sense that I would do something entrepreneurial long before I did. I was always looking for novel ways to solve problems, no matter the environment that I was in. This has become the number one question that I ask entrepreneurs that come to me for advice – what problem are you solving?

It’s important from a business perspective, as well as from a personal satisfaction perspective. When we understand what we’re doing and why, we all tend to be more motivated and focused.

Find your tribe

I am grateful every day for the incredible people in my life. I grew up feeling like an outsider, and I had to a large extent, accepted that this is the way I would always feel (and I was ok with that). It takes me by surprise sometimes to realize that I don’t feel that way anymore. I spend most of my waking hours solving problems and socializing with people that I love, respect and admire. Even when we’re dealing with difficult or stressful situations, I am still grateful for my friends, colleagues and clients every day.

The caveat here is that there are only 24 hours in a day. Each hour that you spend with the wrong folks is a missed opportunity to spend time with the right folks. Choose wisely!

Forgive yourself

This is something that I am still learning, and maybe I will be forever… When I make mistakes, I take it hard. I can hold a grudge for a very long time, and while I think that’s healthy in some cases, I shouldn’t be holding a grudge against myself. Making mistakes is part of learning and growing, and I need to be honest, forgive myself and get to learning rather than dwelling.

The idea that there are only 24 hours in a day is important here too. Time spent beating oneself up is not time well spent.

FINTRAC MSB Registration Expired?!?

FINTRAC Registration

Over the past few months, we have heard from several money services businesses (MSBs) that have experienced issues in renewing their MSB registrations with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). In most cases, these issues are easily resolved. However, if MSB registration issues are not addressed promptly, administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) or criminal charges may ensue.

It is likely that registration-related issues have become more common as FINTRAC is increasingly requesting additional information or clarifications from MSBs as part of the initial registration and registration renewal process. These requests are sent via email to the contact person listed in the MSB registration form.

Check Your MSB registration Status

You can view the status of your MSB registration by searching for your business on the public MSB registry. While this article is about the MSB registration status, anytime you are on this page, it is a useful practice to check to ensure that all of the information is up to date. There are several possible options for the “Registration status of MSB” field:

Registered: this is the status that is displayed for active MSBs. The detailed view will also show the expiry date of the registration.

Ceased: this status is displayed when an MSB has cancelled their registration (e.g. because the business is no longer conducting MSB activity or is only performing MSB activity as the agent of another MSB).

Expired: this status is displayed when an MSB has not submitted an MSB registration renewal on time, has not responded to requests for information from FINTRAC, or has not provided sufficient information to FINTRAC to complete the renewal process.

Revoked: this status indicates that FINTRAC has revoked an MSB’s registration.

If the Expiry Date is Coming Up Soon

If you notice that your MSB’s registration is expiring soon, there are several steps that you should take proactively. First, make sure that you have your login credentials and access FINTRAC’s secure MSB Registration portal. On the left-hand side of the screen, you may see an option to submit your renewal application. If this option is not yet present, it is still a useful practice to select “view completed form” and review the MSB information to ensure that everything is up to date. If there is anything that needs to be updated, you can update the form (information must be updated within 30 days of any changes; do not wait for the renewal date to make updates).

If the renewal can be processed at this time, make sure that you take the time to look at all data fields. Are these fields complete and accurate? Does the information related to the MSB’s beneficial ownership match what will be found in any corporate registries (if not, additional information and/or correction may be required before the registration can be processed). FINTRAC may request additional information by email, and your registration will not be renewed until these queries have been satisfied.

If the Registration is Expired

If you notice that your registration has expired, you should immediately access FINTRAC’s secure MSB Registration portal to renew it. It may be that you have simply missed a deadline, or that you did not notice an error message or request for additional information from FINTRAC. Whatever the cause, you should work to resolve the issue and renew the registration as soon as possible.

If you are not able to renew the registration, contact FINTRAC immediately by emailing guidelines-lignesdirectrices@fintrac-canafe.gc.ca and MSBRegistration@fintrac-canafe.gc.ca immediately with the subject line “URGENT – MSB Renewal Issue – Renewal Date Passed”.

  • In the body of the email, let them know:
  • The company name and MSB number
  • That you have been attempting to renew the MSB registration
  • If you have responded to any requests for additional information, the details of these correspondences (attach copies if possible)
  • Ask what information is needed at this stage to renew the MSB registration

Keep a copy of this and all communications with FINTRAC.

You may also want to consider making a voluntary self-declaration of non-compliance (VSDONC) to FINTRAC. For help with disclosures, check out our previous blog post.

If you receive a “Notice of Violation”

Where an MSB registration is expired, and the MSB continues to perform MSB activities (other than as an agent for another MSB), a penalty may be assessed, and a “Notice of Violation” may be issued. At this stage, a law firm should be engaged (we’re happy to recommend competent firms if this is something that you need). There are specific and relatively short timeframes for all response steps, and this should be treated as urgent.

We’re here to help.

If you are not sure what to do next or need assistance with compliance, please get in touch.

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