The federal government intends to strengthen Canada’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regime with new streamlined processes and amendments proposed in the 2014 federal budget released on Tuesday.
The proposed changes in legislation stem from discussions with stakeholders as well as a five-year review of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act conducted by the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which was completed in March 2013.
The government announced three changes to expand the current act. The first such proposal is to introduce legislation relating to virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin. Likely amendments in this area will relate to entities that work with or distribute Bitcoin — such as an exchange or business that operates Bitcoin ATMs — becoming reporting entities that are obliged to inform FINTRAC of any Bitcoin transactions of $10,000 or more.
Next, the government intends to make online casinos subject to the act. This amendment, which would relate only to online casinos based in Canada, is an extension of the current legislation that covers brick-and-mortar casinos.
Finally, if the budget proposals are accepted, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) will have a greater ability to share information relating to threats to Canadian security with federal partners. These partners include Canadian Border Services agents and money services business such as Western Union.
In addition to these proposed changes, the government announced an increase in funding to FINTRAC. The government plans to provide FINTRAC with up to $10.5 million over five years, according to budget documents, and then up to $2.2 million annually in the years following.
As well, the government announced its intention to provide FINTRAC with up to $12 million in additional funding, which will be distributed on an “as needed” basis over a five-year period, to help FINTRAC improve its analytics system.
Related to these changes to Canada’s anti-money laundering regime, the government announced its intention to simplify the current process of following economic sanctions requirements. Currently, to identify sanctioned individuals, companies and countries who would be subject to a seizure or freezing of assets, private businesses must look through 19 lists from five domestic and international websites, according to government documents.