Financial intelligence highlights: 2015–16
Results in the fight against money laundering and terrorist activity financing
The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) is Canada's financial intelligence unit. The Centre contributes to the safety of Canadians and helps protect the integrity of Canada’s financial system through the detection and deterrence of money laundering and terrorist activity financing.
With the financial transaction reports that FINTRAC receives every year from reporting entities across the country, it is able to provide actionable financial intelligence that assists Canada’s police, law enforcement and national security agencies in combatting money laundering, terrorism financing and threats to the security of Canada, while safeguarding the information of Canadians.
FINTRAC's disclosures contain designated information that identifies individuals and entities, as well as account and transaction information. Disclosures are made when the Centre has reasonable grounds to suspect that the information would be relevant to the investigation or prosecution of a money laundering or terrorist activity financing offence or to threats to the security of Canada. This intelligence allows FINTRAC to establish critical links between transactions, individuals and groups in Canada and abroad that support criminal and terrorist activities.
In June 2015, the RCMP’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit recognized FINTRAC’s contribution to a two-year multi-jurisdictional and international investigation into the 'Ndrangheta criminal organization operating in the Greater Toronto Area. Project OPHOENIX resulted in the arrest of nineteen people for numerous offences related to drug importation and trafficking, firearms trafficking, extortion, possession and laundering of the proceeds of crime.
Often based on hundreds or even thousands of financial transactions, FINTRAC’s disclosures show links between individuals and businesses that have not otherwise been identified in an investigation, and may help investigators refine the scope of their cases or shift their sights to different targets. The Centre’s disclosures are also used by police and other law enforcement agencies to prepare affidavits to obtain search warrants and production orders in pursuit of charges.
The Centre’s intelligence is also used by regime partners to identify assets for seizure and forfeiture, reinforce applications for the listing of terrorist entities, negotiate agreements at the time of sentencing and advance the government's knowledge of the financial dimensions of terrorism, organized crime and other threats.
FINTRAC maintains very strong and productive working relationships with its police, law enforcement and national security partners to ensure that its financial intelligence is relevant, valuable and closely aligned to their priorities. The Centre’s Deputy Director of Operations is a member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and FINTRAC is the only non-law enforcement organization to serve on the Canadian Integrated Response to Organized Crime Committee (CIROC). Below are some recent investigations to which FINTRAC contributed.
Contributing to priority law enforcement and national security investigations
In May 2015, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal recognized FINTRAC’s contribution to an investigation into a contraband alcohol network that is alleged to have defrauded the government of $14 million in tax revenue. The investigation resulted in 11 arrests with charges related to fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime.
The RCMP recognized FINTRAC’s contribution to a cocaine trafficking investigation in the Acadian Peninsula. Several drug related charges were initially laid against six men in September 2013, with two men convicted and sentenced to four years in prison in September 2015. Four additional men were arrested in July 2015 in Operation J-Touchdown. More than two kilograms of cocaine, two vehicles and cash were seized.
In October 2015, the Ontario Provincial Police Temiskaming Crime Unit recognized FINTRAC’s contribution to a three-year investigation into an alleged fraud surrounding the restoration and sale of a vacant commercial property. Five individuals were charged with a total of 60 Criminal Code offences and the financial loss was approximately $7.5 million.
In December 2015, the Mass Marketing Section of the Toronto Police Service Financial Crimes Unit recognized FINTRAC’s contribution to a three-year investigation into an alleged $93 million pyramid scheme. Two individuals were charged with defrauding the public, possession of proceeds of crime, laundering proceeds of crime and other offences.
In January 2016, FINTRAC’s contribution was recognized in a joint forces police operation involving the Ontario Provincial Police, the Ottawa Police Service and the RCMP’s “O” Division Ottawa Detachment Financial Crime unit dubbed Project ATTAR. Two properties, with a combined worth of $1.4 million were restrained in this proceeds of crime investigation.
In March 2016, the RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Toronto recognized the Centre’s contribution to an extensive national security criminal investigation, Project SWAP, which resulted in a terrorism charge under the Criminal Code.
In 2015–16, FINTRAC provided 1,655 disclosures of actionable financial intelligence to its regime partners.
View the text equivalent FINTRAC case disclosures from 2011–12 to 2015–16
This chart compares the total number of FINTRAC case disclosures from 2011–12 to 2015–16.
FINTRAC made 796 case disclosures in 2011–12.
FINTRAC made 919 case disclosures in 2012–13.
FINTRAC made 1,143 case disclosures in 2013–14.
FINTRAC made 1,260 case disclosures in 2014–15.
FINTRAC made 1,655 case disclosures in 2015–16.
Of FINTRAC’s total disclosures, 1,501 were associated to money laundering. An additional 483 cases were relevant to terrorism financing and threats to the security of Canada, an increase of more than 43 percent from the previous year.
View the text equivalent Disclosures by type
This chart compares the total number of FINTRAC case disclosures by type in 2015–16.
FINTRAC made 1,172 case disclosures related to money laundering.
FINTRAC made 329 case disclosures related to terrorist financing and threats to the security of Canada.
FINTRAC made 154 case disclosures related to money laundering, terrorist financing and threats to the security of Canada.
Throughout 2015–16, the Centre's financial intelligence contributed to a significant number of investigations at the federal, provincial and municipal levels across the country. Canadian police forces — particularly the Royal Canadian Mounted Police — continue to be the main recipients of FINTRAC's financial intelligence.
Number of disclosure packages by recipient (2015–16)Footnote *
|Recipient||Number of disclosures|
|Royal Canadian Mounted Police||976|
|Canadian Security Intelligence Service||429|
|Foreign financial intelligence units (41 countries)||384|
|Canada Border Services Agency||225|
|Canada Revenue Agency||205|
|Provincial securities regulators||69|
|Communications Security Establishment||47|
Over the past year, FINTRAC’s financial intelligence was used to assist hundreds of money laundering investigations in the context of a wide variety of criminal investigations, where the origins of the suspected criminal proceeds were linked to fraud, drug trafficking, tax evasion, corruption, theft, human trafficking and other criminal offences.
Types of predicate offences related to case disclosuresFootnote *
|Immigration and Refugee Protection Act offences (excluding human trafficking/smuggling)||6%|
|Crimes against persons||3%|
|Weapons possession/arms trafficking||3%|
|Other (Crimes against property, luring, tobacco sales/distribution, other Federal Acts)||1%|
In 2015–16, FINTRAC received 1,618 case filesFootnote 1 from police, law enforcement and national security partners, as well as from members of the public. This is an increase of nearly 20 percent from the previous year. These files provide key intelligence on alleged criminals and terrorists and are often the starting point for the Centre’s analysis. They are used by the Centre to establish connections between individuals and entities and to build financial intelligence that, in turn, provides partners with valuable leads in their investigations.
View the text equivalent Number of case files received from 2011–12 to 2015–16
This chart compares the total number of case files received from 2011–12 to 2015–16.
FINTRAC received 1,034 case files in 2011–12.
FINTRAC received 1,082 case files in 2012–13.
FINTRAC received 1,320 case files in 2013–14.
FINTRAC received 1,380 case files in 2014–15.
FINTRAC received 1,618 case files in 2015–16.
When appropriate thresholds are met, FINTRAC also provides proactive disclosures of actionable financial intelligence to its police, law enforcement and natoinal security partners based on observed patterns of transactional activity and information in reported financial transactions, particularly in suspicious transaction reports. The Centre has dedicated significant effort to increasing the quality and volume of suspicious transaction reporting, given its importance to FINTRAC’s analysis and the financial intelligence that it generates for its partners. As a result of these efforts and an increased commitment from reporting entities, suspicious transaction reporting increased by 24 percent last year. This has allowed FINTRAC to provide more – and even more timely – proactive disclosures in relation to its partners’ ongoing investigations and to help generate new investigations.
The demand for FINTRAC’s financial intelligence has grown steadily over the past five years. This speaks to the strong partnerships the Centre has established with Canada’s police, law enforcement and national security agencies, and the valuable contribution FINTRAC has made to their priority investigations. It also speaks to the extensive efforts undertaken by the Centre and reporting entities across the country to increase the quantity and quality of the transaction reporting that FINTRAC receives under the PCMLTFA. The 20 million financial transaction reports the Centre receives from Canadian businesses every year are the lifeblood of its analysis and make it possible for FINTRAC to support its partners’ money laundering and terrorist financing investigations.
The Centre’s increasing contribution to the investigations of its police, law enforcement and national security partners has been enabled by the commitment and investment that FINTRAC has made in recruiting high-quality employees who have access to the sophisticated training, technology and support required to fulfill their specialized roles. Over the past year, the Centre has also focused on better integrating and aligning its structure and business processes to further strengthen its operational effectiveness. FINTRAC’s operating paradigm – compliance for intelligence and intelligence for enforcement – ensures that its focus is always on its core mandate: helping to protect Canadians and the integrity of Canada’s financial system.
A new partnership to counter human trafficking
In 2015–16, FINTRAC joined police and national security partners in a unique public-private partnership with the major banks in order to help combat human trafficking and the laundering of the proceeds derived from this activity. In the three months since Project Protect was launched, the Centre’s disclosures to law enforcement regarding human trafficking increased significantly.
Recognizing the transnational nature of money laundering and terrorist activity financing, FINTRAC also works with foreign financial intelligence units to protect Canadians and the integrity of Canada’s financial system. Through bilateral agreements, the Centre is able to disclose financial intelligence to 92 financial intelligence units worldwide when the appropriate thresholds are met. At the same time, foreign intelligence units are able to share their information with FINTRAC, which broadens its analyses of international financial transactions.
In 2015–16, the Centre received 240 queries for information from foreign financial intelligence units and provided 384 disclosures to 41 different countries. For its part, FINTRAC sent 147 requests to foreign financial intelligence units to broaden its own analysis.
Going forward, the Centre will continue to focus on strengthening the relationships that it has with its law enforcement, national security and international partners to ensure that it continues to deliver high-quality, timely and actionable financial intelligence.
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