FINTRAC the NSA of the Banking World

Elizabeth Marshall
By Elizabeth Marshall

Throughout Canada people are unaware that our banking information is being sent to an entity called FINTRAC (“FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS AND REPORTS ANALYSIS CENTRE OF CANADA”). This entity was created in 2001, and FINTRAC’s mandate is to receive, collect, analyze, assess and disclose information on financial transactions, and to disseminate intelligence in order to assist in the detection, prevention and deterrence of money laundering and terrorist financing activities.


Other concerns are that our banks are being used as a private police force to collect information on any Canadians who might do any financial transactions, including investments, R.R.S.P.s, and the “know your client” exercise. When bank representatives tell you that their information gathering on you is for better service and also under the Proceeds of Crime Act, you feel that because you haven’t done anything wrong and are innocent, nothing will be sent to any authorities, right? This is where every Canadian is being misled. Your information is not staying internally with your financial institution, your financial advisor, your real estate agent, your “Canadian Home Builder”, it is being sent to FINTRAC.

This is a problem for all Canadians as every Canadian is considered under suspicion and/or accused of money laundering and funding terrorism, until they prove themselves innocent.

There are instances where Canadians have had their personal or their small business’s funds frozen because they are unprepared to give certain personal information. This information can be about themselves or other people, which has nothing to do with financial decisions or shareholders who are not involved in the day-to-day operations of their small company. There are also instances of where Canadians are merely trying to make deposits and have had demands to present photo I.D. when they know the tellers personally and have their bank cards and PIN numbers. And there have been instances reported where “Apps” “terms of agreement” are on cell phones are to allow banks to infiltrate your contact list on your cell phone. This is all based on FINTRAC Guidelines. Each time one goes to the bank, the accountant, does real estate deals, builds a home, they are considered under suspicion or accused of money laundering or funding terrorism and are treated as if they are a criminal.

In 2009 Stew Fettes, “a Saskatchewan real estate sales rep was mad as heck about having to collect additional confidential information about his clients’ transactions, in order to comply with FINTRAC requirements.” Fettes said “What’s really got me bothered and upset here is that they made it mandatory and deputized us pretty much, with ferocious fines, and that’s not right.”

This is also an attack on small businesses as large corporations are exempt from this process. Section 3.1 “General Exceptions to Record Keeping” of the FINTRAC guidelines states: “You do not have to keep a receipt of funds record (see subsection 3.3) if you conduct a transaction for a … very large corporation. The same is true regarding a subsidiary of either of those entities…Also in this context, a very large corporation is one that has minimum net assets of $75 million on its last audited balance sheet….”(2) It is thought that all corporations which have over $75 million in net assets are all transacted on the stock exchange and therefore exempt. Also under the Proceeds of Crime Act – Money Laundering and Terrorist Funding, section 9 there are questions as to whether politicians and their families, judges, presidents of political parties, etc., are exempt, or what exactly is the policy for these “prescribed classes”?

The Privacy Commissioner has just finished a report on this entity and has found some serious concerns. In the Privacy Commissioner’s report there was the statement of:

“The mere inclusion in a database without justification is a violation of privacy rights, according to OPC.

For example, Stoddart said, her office found that the personal information of a store owner was stored in the FINTRAC database after a financial institution filed a report on the person. The report was filed for no other reasons than the bank was suspicious because the individual deposited $570 in $100, $20 and $5 dollar bills.”

Canadians and residents of the U.S. may be wondering why it has taken so long for this information to come to light. If the U.S. is anything like Canada, under the FINTRAC Guideline

6 C – Section 2 Record Keeping and Client Identification Obligations

“However, you do not have to inform individuals when you include personal information about them in any of the reports that you are required to make to FINTRAC.”

As of March 2012, FINTRAC’s databases held approximately “165 million reports containing personal information related to financial transactions. … these reports may be submitted to FINTRAC without the knowledge or consent of the individuals concerned, …”(3) And according to the Privacy Commissioner, FINTRAC costs Canadians $54 Million per year and yet Michael Vonn, of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said that “there is no evidence that FINTRAC is actually effective in countering terrorist financing and money laundering.”(4)

FINTRAC is also affiliated with the Egmont Group which includes over 100 different countries, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, South Korea, Serbia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Syria, United States of America, etc., and our financial information is being sent over-seas to foreign entities. This is unconstitutional and the only way we can stop this action, by government, is to make our voices heard by having letters sent telling the Prime Minister’s office, to CEASE AND DESIST FINTRAC and THESE DRACONIAN BANKING POLICIES AND FEES. There is no postage required to mail a letter to the House of Commons. We must stand together to stop this violation of our rights. Send letters to: Prime Minister Stephen Harper or Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty – House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6.

This is not to protect Canadians from Money Launders or persons funding terrorism…this is merely to spy on Canadians by saying they are defending Canada from such crimes…the same as William the Conqueror did with his Dooms Day book and every Canadian is accused of Money laundering and funding terrorism until they prove themselves innocent.