The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) recently provided guidance (the Guidance) to reporting entities in connection with their continuing obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Guidance, FINTRAC acknowledged that reporting entities may have to reassign and reprioritize their internal resources in response to the pandemic, which may in turn affect their ability to meet certain obligations under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and its accompanying Regulations.
Here are key takeaways from the Guidance:
- Reporting Obligations. Amid the pandemic, reporting entities are expected to prioritize the submission of suspicious transaction reports (STRs). Reporting entities that are in possession of critical information relating to terrorist activity but cannot submit STRs in the usual manner should notify FINTRAC via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, reporting entities that are unable to meet their reporting obligations for reasons beyond their control should submit a voluntary self-declaration of non-compliance.
- Verification of Identity. When assessing the authenticity of documents, reporting entities can, until further notice, consider any government-issued photo ID document that has expired on or after March 1, 2020, to be valid and current pursuant to its issuing authority.
- Compliance Assessment and Enforcement. For the time being, FINTRAC will not be contacting reporting entities to initiate new examinations. Other interactions with reporting entities will be limited to situations related to reporting issues, circumstances where reporting entities contact FINTRAC for guidance, and the completion of examinations currently underway. Reporting entities that are unable to meet their obligations should keep a record indicating the reason(s) for non-compliance and any measures taken to mitigate the risk of non-compliance.
Should you have any questions about any aspect of the Guidance and what it means for you, do not hesitate to contact the author.
The author would like to thank Alexandra David, articling student, for her contribution to this legal update.