November 27th, 2020

Pandemic underscores importance of financial intelligence, federal centre says


By The Canadian Press on November 18, 2020.

Canadian $100 bills are counted in Toronto, Feb. 2, 2016. The federal anti-money laundering agency says it provided thousands of intelligence leads to partners in the last fiscal year despite the havoc the COVID-19 pandemic created for the business world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

OTTAWA – The federal anti-money laundering agency says it gave more than 2,000 intelligence leads to partners in the last fiscal year despite the havoc the COVID-19 pandemic created for the business world.

The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, known as Fintrac, tries to pinpoint cash linked to money laundering and terrorism by sifting through millions of bits of information from banks, insurance companies, securities dealers, real estate brokers, casinos and others.

In its annual report tabled in Parliament this week, Fintrac says it disclosed 2,057 pieces of financial intelligence to police and security agencies such as the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Of the disclosures, 1,582 were related to money laundering, 296 to terrorism financing and threats to the security of Canada, and 179 to a combination of these.

Drugs, fraud and tax evasion were the most common offences linked to the disclosures.

Fintrac says the intelligence contributed to 393 project-level investigations at the municipal, provincial and federal levels across the country.

Canadian police forces, especially the RCMP, were the main recipients of the centre’s financial intelligence.

Nada Semaan, who recently left her position as director of the centre, says in the report that the agency has continued to receive and analyze vital financial transaction reporting during the pandemic.

“Our financial intelligence is more important than ever as criminals and terrorists have looked to take advantage of the pandemic to enrich themselves and advance their illicit enterprises,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.

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