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FINTRAC’s 2016 Real Estate Brief

Quick Overview

A little over a month ago, FINTRAC published an operational brief for the Canadian real estate industry.  The brief was intended to assist reporting entities in meeting the obligations to report suspicious transactions or attempted suspicious transactions that related to potential money laundering or terrorist financing.  The publication provided some common indicators that may be present in a transaction that suggest money laundering or terrorist financing could be involved.

What Does it Mean?

The suspicious indicators provided by FINTRAC list circumstances or activities that might signal potentially illicit activity.  This does not mean that if one or more of the indicators are present that the transaction is definitely suspicious and must be reported to FINTRAC, it is meant to ensure that you are aware of the potential that suspicious activity may be taking place.  In that context, if you are involved in real estate transactions, you must be aware of the indicators in the brief.  If you do encounter a transaction that may be considered suspicious, you will need to collect additional information that will aid in your decision to report it or document why it was not considered suspicious.

What Now?

In order to ensure familiarity for anyone who interacts with customers and their transactions, the list of FINTRAC’s indicators should be included in your ongoing AML compliance training program.  Furthermore, the indicators should also be included in your procedure manuals, allowing easy access to the information.  Finally, the indicators should be incorporated into your Risk Assessment documentation.  Specifically, when determining customer risk and the controls used to effectively mitigate potential risks.

We’ve made it easier for you to integrate this content into your program by putting the indicators in a Word document for you.

Need a Hand?

Outlier has taken the list of indicators provided by FINTRAC and formatted them into an easy to use Microsoft Word document, which can be downloaded here: FINTRAC Indicators Specific to Real Estate Transactions.  This should allow companies within the real estate sector to easily update their documentation and ensure they are sufficiently monitoring for potentially suspicious activity.  If you aren’t sure what to do with this information and would like some assistance, please feel free to contact us.

FINTRAC Releases Policy Positions

Amber looking at laptop FINTRAC screenFrom the time that we launched, we at Outlier have believed strongly that information should be free.   When we have received information from regulators or other government agencies that we believe could be useful to our friends and clients, we’ve posted that information on our blog, making the information accessible without cost. This has lead us to make inquiries with agencies including the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). Most recently, we’ve requested access to all of the policy positions that FINTRAC has provided from 2008 to the present date. As a consequence of this request, FINTRAC will be releasing this data to the public in the near future.

You can read FINTRAC’s confirmation letter here.

00047 – signed reply letter

The Big Disclaimer

The information that follows is based on our requests and conversations with FINTRAC. We are not lawyers and do not present any of our content as legal advice. If you feel that we’ve missed something vital, or misrepresented an important point, please feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to correct it.

FINTRAC Has Gone Public

Policy positions are statements that FINTRAC has made about how the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and its enacted regulations (Regulations) should be applied. These are the “opinion” or “position” of the regulator (similar to the guidelines released by FINTRAC), intended to assist reporting entities in complying with the law. Like guidelines, they are subject to change and do not carry the force of law – but do have the ability to be powerful tools for reporting entities.

We applaud FINTRAC’s decision to make this information available to the public and look forward to reviewing the publications!

You can see the initial publication here (scroll down to the FINTRAC Policy Interpretations section).

What It Means For Your Business

Reporting entities should review the policy positions when they are released and look for guidance that can be applied in refining their anti money laundering (AML) and counter terrorist financing (CTF) compliance programs.  FINTRAC has confirmed that “sanitized, non-repetitive, versions” of the policy interpretations positions will be made public on an ongoing basis.  Historical policy interpretations (from 2008 to the present date) are expected to be published via FINTRAC’s website in December this year.

Obsolete Policy Positions

We have received as part of our initial information request a list of policy positions that FINTRAC considers to be obsolete (no longer accurate or relevant). While these are less useful to most reporting entities than current policy positions, it may be useful for reporting entities to review this content to determine whether they are relying on information that FINTRAC no longer holds true. You can access this information using the link below.

Obsolete Policy Positions

Need a Hand?

If you have questions about AML or CTF compliance, including what a policy position might mean for your business, please contact us for more information.

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