Regulating Money Service Businesses in Canada

ELI Canada

The oversight of money service businesses in country is predominantly dictated by the Returns of Crime and Terrorist Sponsoring Act (PCMLTFA), in conjunction with its related directives. The Monetary Transfers and Records Examination Center (FINTRAC) supervises the control of MSBs in jurisdiction. An MSB, as defined by FINTRAC, is an establishment with a presence in country that offers diverse monetary accommodations, encompassing non-citizen interchange operations, funds remittance or transmission, distribution and deliverance of capital demands, virtual money transmissions, and crownfunding accomodations.

Our panel of legal specialists, who concentrate on Structured Finances and Securitization, has consistently provided guidance to a variety of consumers desiring adherence to MSB restrictions. It has come to our notice that the restrictions governing MSBs in Canada are not extensively comprehended, even among operational enterprises that are likely within the scope of pertinent federal statutes. If your enterprise involves operating a program or favor that sustains the remittance of reserves or money transfers, for instance, our accumulated knowledge indicates that you might potentially qualify as an MSB and thus be subjected to the faithfulness outlined by the PCMLTFA. Our knowledge indicates that a spectrum of enterprises, frequently without legal guidance, may inadvertently disregard the responsibilities concerning enrollment, record-keeping, and documenting that are mandated by federal statutes relevant to MSBs. This succinct article aims to emphasize pivotal concerns for MSBs.


Upon an establishment being designated as an MSB, it becomes obligatory to enroll with FINTRAC to supply money accomodations. This enrollment procedure encourages the global transmission of funds while guarding against money laundering. The negligence to enroll as an MSB with FINTRAC constitutes a contravention of the PCMLTFA, possibly resulting in either penal or organizational consequences, which could involve fines escalating to $2,000,000 and/or incarceration for up to 5 years.


Specific individuals, as well as businesses, associations, or other entity categories, guided by individuals who possess or manage 20% or more of the shares, are disqualified from enrolling as an MSB if they have been sentenced of specific offenses. These offenses encompass an array of criminal actions such as money laundering, drug-related infractions, and fraud.

Continual Accountabilities

Observing successful enrollment, an entity is tasked with preserving accurate and current enrollment details. This encompasses expeditiously replying to data submissions, resuming MSB enrollment before its expiration, and informing FINTRAC in the event of discontinuing MSB accommodations for Canadian consumers. Moreover, in adherence to the PCMLTFA, MSBs are compelled to institute and uphold a exhaustive and efficacious conformity regimen. Furthermore, they must designate protocols and procedures for the confirmation of consumer individuality.

Starting from June 1, 2020, the categorization of MSBs has been broadened to encompass commodities involved in dealings with digital money, inclusive cryptocurrencies. In conjunction with executing measures for conformity with anti-money laundering policies, MSBs are obligated to execute due persistence on patrons, maintain records of consumer individuality, and report specific transmissions to FINTRAC, inclusive:

  • Reports on Questionable Transmissions linked to monetary actions that arouse suspicion of being tied to money laundering or the sponsoring of terrorism.
  • Reports on Large Cash Transmissions for cash transfers totaling $10,000 or more in a solitary instance or multiple transfers.
  • Reports on Large Virtual Currency Transmissions for virtual currency transmissions amounting to $10,000 or more.
  • Reports on E-Capitals Transmissions for the transactivities of budgets of $10,000 or more, either into or out of country, in a solitary transfer or multiple transfers aggregating to $10,000.

Negligence to concede with these recent provisions may entail penalties ranging from $1,000 to $500,000.

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