Ottawa, ON – Adam Chambers, Member of Parliament for Simcoe North, and Conservative Deputy Shadow Minister for Finance, introduced a private Member’s bill in the House of Commons. If adopted, it will amend the Criminal Code to make it an offense to provide false information to a person or entity listed in section 5 of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act about the identity of a person or entity, including the corporate structure. Those who have violated the law could face a prison term of up to ten years and/or a fine of up to a million dollars CAD.
The bill will give law enforcement another tool to combat money laundering in Canada. Transparency International (TI) Canada, a leading organization on corruption and transparency, has reported that Canada has garnered a reputation as an easy jurisdiction for national and international criminals to launder money.
James Cohen of TI Canada reacted to the bill, “We are pleased to see the proposal of this bill that fits in with increasing attention and efforts in Canada to fight money laundering and end our national reputation for ‘snow washing’. This proposed amendment can be a crucial tool in closing one of the many gaps that have been exploited by kleptocrats, tax cheats, and their enablers. TI Canada hopes to see all parties come together to move this proposal forward.”
In a recent CD Howe Intelligence Memo expert Kevin Comeau acknowledged the challenge with Canada’s current laws regarding anti-money laundering, “Under our present anti-money-laundering rules, financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and partnerships (Reporting Entities) are legally required to collect and verify the identity information of their clients. Reporting Entities failing to do so are subject to sanctions. But clients who provide false beneficial-ownership information are not…The federal government can reduce these risks by enacting legislation attaching sanctions to false reports of beneficial ownership made to persons who are legally required to collect that information.”
The bill will complement the publicly accessible beneficial ownership the Liberal Government committed to in budget 2022 by imposing strict criminal sanctions on those who lie about their identity or corporate structure to Reporting Entities.
“The scale of money laundering in Canada is staggering and its impact in Canada by laundering proceeds of illicit activities and driving up real estate prices for all Canadians,” said MP Chambers. He went on to say that “Criminals rely on dozens of people to launder their money. This bill will make their life more difficult and make it easier for authorities to hold criminals accountable for their actions.”
Other third parties have come forward to support the bill, including Sasha Caldera from Publish What you Pay Canada, “It is great to see momentum to shut down loopholes and strengthen anti-money laundering criminal sanctions. We welcome this proposed amendment to the Criminal Code.”
Additionally, Christian Leuprecht, Professor, Royal Military College & Queen’s University and senior fellow of the Macdonald Laurier Institute also praised the bill, “After decades of turning a blind eye, the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code is one of many steps Canada needs to show that it is actually serious about containing global financial crime.”
MP Chambers stressed Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine and subsequent concerns about Kleptocratic money flowing around the world have helped people understand how big this problem is; “Now is the time for action. There is no one change that will end money laundering and that’s why I look forward to working with Members of all parties and Senators to pass this and other legislation to address this serious issue facing Canada.”