What a mess. I speak of the draconian and ugly FINTRAC legislation that Prime Minister Harper passed in 2008. It is a total flop. One hundred and ten thousand members of CREA along with thousands of other small business persons were mandated by law to carry out secretive legislation to “spy for the state”, all in a shroud of secrecy. Harper sent the RCMP to hold meetings with the Realtors. When a Realtor asked, “What if I don’t comply?” the RCMP said, “We will arrest you.”  The RCMP stated, “We will do the best we can to protect your identity.” What a farce that was. They can’t even protect themselves from all their scandals.

You only bumped into the secretive legislation when you bought or sold real estate using a Realtor. Failure to comply would mean $2-million fines, jail time or both. The RCMP and CSIS were both involved in that legislation right up to their ears.

FINTRAC is in my opinion totally the wrong method to gather intelligence for Harper’s fascist state. Today the rules are even more dangerous. Realtors are now forced to track their clients forever and assess a risk factor to their clients, all in a shroud of secrecy.

Ironically, the multinationals selling real estate are exempt from the legislation, as are For Sale By Owners.

Clearly if you want the citizens to help fight crime you don’t do it with this kind of blunt instrument. The proper way would be to do what Canada Revenue does, with a type of whistle-blower legislation. That works well for them, with no risk to the citizen who is trying to be helpful, and some small reward for their help upon summary conviction.

Stew Fettes
Retired
Century 21 Dome Realty
Regina

14 COMMENTS

  1. REALTORS:
    In case your associations have failed to notify you, the government is moving ahead with a review of Vancouver registrants for their failure to report “suspicious” transactions. The inevitable conclusions will be Registrants are failing to meet FINTRAC requirements for those who trade in real estate.

    CREA has boasted for almost a decade how they have protected you and how they won concessions from the Government on your behalf for FINTRAC. Those boasts are on the public record and electronically stored all over the web. If you assume FINTRAC will ignore those boasts you are mistaken, in our opinion.

    Brokerages who have missed the “suspicious” reporting standards need to immediately call a meeting of Agents where all the RED FLAGS Fintrac has included on it’s website for those who trade in real estate, can be communicated to members. Key RED FLAGS that should cause a suspicious report to prevent a registrant from being prosecuted:
    1) ID that is not Canadian issued
    2) Residency outside of Canada
    3) No Mortgage Financing clause or the implication no Financing is needed for any client new to your firm.
    4) Offers made in Trust even with a Lawyer ( the lawyer remember cannot report a suspicious deal from their client)
    5) The buyer has indicated they have no immediate plans to move in
    6) The buyer has been secretive about their circumstances, reasoning or plans
    7) Price negotiation seems to be of little importance
    8) A willingness to enter a bidding situation without requesting YOU complete an appraisal of the property or offering with no Appraised Value condition included in the offer.
    9) Ignoring commonly followed practices to buy a home ( ie no home inspection, no lawyer approval of offer, no appraisal, no bylaw review, no SPIS demand, etc)
    10) Being approached “out of the blue” from someone purchasing a home generally indicative of high net worth
    11) Being approached by someone for the purchase of a Category of home or location of a home where you have little to no experience selling.
    12) Where a large team is approached to act for a buyer and the Team Leader is not requested to handle the deal when the property being acquired exceeds the Average selling price in the trading area, when the client is brand new to the team without any referral coming from a previous client.

    There is no reason you need to have a criminal conviction over this folks. Simply meet the basic FInTRAC guidelines and you will be protected. It is not an onerous task but one the entire real estate trading community should have EMBRACED years ago.

  2. Did anyone else hear this radio broadcast?

    Can anyone verify?

    Last night I heard a radio report saying that the government wants to put a new requirement on all the banks, that anyone withdrawing cash in excess of 5k would require that each withdrawal would require a form to be reported by your bank, to the RCMP, saying what you intend to spend your own money on. Another addition to FINTRAC requirement possibly?

    Based on the premise that NO ONE ever needs to withdraw from their own account, a cash withdrawal of more than 5k; not ever.

    Could this be true? In an effort to track terrorist funding and keep all personal banking on a short leash. Really?

    Some people fear that the banks and the government are nervous that there will be a “run” on the banks if there is any major financial event, and this would be one way to discourage people from taking out their cash in the short run.

    Carolyne L

      • $5,000. now apparently ???

        A colleague who is a law student went to the bank this week to take out 5k cash and was told the report had to be filled out now for 5k and up.

        I had heard this was coming, on a documentary program. Seems like now it’s true, even if you are transferring your own money to another bank for your own use, using cash. Or to pay a construction worker in cash etc.

        Any transaction 5k cash, and over must be reported. Might this be to reign in the underground economy?

        Anyone got confirmation on that?

        Carolyne L 🍁

        • Legally $10k, but every business is free to set their own policies and they are probably being proactive in collecting information to satisfy reporting in relation to multiple transactions totalling $10k or more.
          Also, the law does not require this information for withdrawals – only deposits.
          (Another tidbit of info: the requirements are imposed on the real estate sales industry instead of on the lawyers who actually handle the closing funds because of solicitor-client confidentiality [amongst other reasons])

          From the FINTRAC website, the law requires:
          “If you are a reporting entity, you have to send a large cash transaction report to FINTRAC in the following situations:

          A – You receive an amount of $10,000 or more in cash in the course of a single transaction; or
          B – You receive two or more cash amounts of less than $10,000 that total $10,000 or more (24-hour rule). In this case, if you are an individual, you have to make a large cash transaction report if you know the transactions were made within 24 consecutive hours of each other by or on behalf of the same individual or entity. If you are an entity, you have to make a large cash transaction report if your employee or senior officer knows the transactions were made within 24 consecutive hours of each other by or on behalf of the same individual or entity.”

          The page was updated on May 30th so it should be current. The page URL is http://www.fintrac-canafe.gc.ca/reporting-declaration/info/rptlctr-eng.asp

  3. Stew, (this is meant sincerely)
    All licensed sales reps and brokers in Canada are owed a massive thank you from the nation. The generosity and willingness of those Canadians to assume such massive liability in protecting their country cannot be understated.

    Last year, brokerages completed over 2.3 million FINTRAC investigations that on average required 30 minutes each to properly vet and complete and store. This meant over 1,150,000 hours of Registrant time was provided FREE of charge to the Federal Government. At even only $50/hr this was a donation of 75 million dollars (2014) by REALTORS to assist in the fight of terrorism directly within the walls of Canada.

    On top of that financial expense, over 60,000 REALTORS willingly accepted the liability that comes along with personally vetting over 2.3 million Canadians on grounds of suspected terrorism, a liability that includes the threat of penalties you have noted so articulately in your article. They assumed all cost for their training and education on tell tale signs that could signal a terrorist was acquiring real estate for ulterior purposes in residential subdivisions filled with children. While many did not take this seriously others did.

    Several Million such forms have been completed and remain under lock and key in almost every real estate office in Canada and probably in over 150,000 personal homes of REALTORS with an attached PIPEDIA requirement to keep those records safe not being ceded to anyone.

    And let’s not forget those 1000’s of REALTORS that have retired since 2008 and now must store and protect those records until instructed by the RCMP that they can be disposed of.

    Silently and with NO CREDIT this massive contribution to the Canadian society has gone unrecognized. While debates in parliament take place on whether tracking probable terrorists limits their constitutional rights, the work of REALTORS silently going on each day draws no national press although it impacts so many of us.

    You all need and deserve a moment of Thanks.

    Thank You

  4. Respectfully speaking…..
    In my opinion, FINTRAC is easy to comprehend and complete.
    It does not hamper with the sales process, so why is it an issue for you?

    • Typically a database is a centralized place. FINTRAC is decentralized and all over the country. We can argue about the merits however a centralized online database should be created instead of kept in individual files across the country.

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