The federal government is responding to risks in the financial sector with proposed legislative changes to enhance oversight of banks’ and pension plans’ exposure to cryptoassets.
The 2023 federal budget said that federally regulated pension funds will be required to disclose their cryptoasset exposure to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI). The government will also work with the provinces and territories on crypto disclosure for funds regulated at that level, it said.
OSFI will also consult federally regulated financial institutions on guidelines for publicly disclosing their crypto exposure.
“Ongoing turbulence in cryptoasset markets, and the recent high-profile failures of crypto-trading platform FTX, and of Signature Bank, have demonstrated that cryptoassets can threaten the financial well-being of people, national security, and the stability and integrity of the global financial system,” the budget stated.
“To protect Canadians from the risks that come with cryptoassets, there is a clear need for different orders of government to take an active role in addressing consumer protection gaps and risks to our financial system.”
Last year, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec wrote off its US$150-million investment in crypto-lending platform Celsius Network.
In November, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board said it was writing down its US$95-million investment in failed crypto-trading platform FTX.
Following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank earlier this month and the ongoing liquidity crisis, the budget also included a nod to deposit insurance. U.S. regulators stepped in to guarantee SVB deposits above the $250,000 insured limit. The budget said the government may amend the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act to allow for an increase in deposit insurance and other measures during market disruptions.
The government is also increasing attention to financial crimes and foreign interference in financial institutions. The budget said the government intends to expand OSFI’s mandate to determine whether federally regulated financial institutions have adequate policies to protect against foreign interference. It would also give the regulator more authority to intervene in cases when national security is at risk.
The budget included $2 million to establish a new Canada Financial Crimes Agency, which would become the country’s leading enforcement agency for financial crimes such as money laundering. Further details will be provided in the fall economic statement.
The budget also proposed legislative changes that would allow law enforcement to “freeze and seize virtual assets with suspected links to crime” and to improve sharing of information between the Canada Revenue Agency, law enforcement and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).
The budget also indicated the government would make it an offence to structure financial transactions to avoid FINTRAC reporting and that it would provide whistleblowing protections for employees who report information to FINTRAC.