The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) has issued new guidance and policy interpretations REALTORS® must abide by to satisfy compliance with Regime requirements.
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) continues to support REALTORS® by providing tools and resources to assist in complying to Regime obligations.
As a result, CREA has updated its FINTRAC compliance materials to reflect:
• Scanned or photocopied documentation may now be used as part of the dual process method of identification. Previously, only original documentation could be used. This change makes it easier for REALTORS® to identify their clients remotely. No in-person meetings are required. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a timely modernization reflective of CREA’s lobbying efforts in 2019.
• FINTRAC’s updated guidance on terrorist property lists.
• A new deadline for suspicious transactions as a result of a change in the law. The new deadline is “as soon as practicable” after measures have been taken to enable a REALTOR® to establish there are reasonable grounds to suspect the transaction or attempted transaction is related to the commission of a money laundering offence or a terrorist activity financing offence.
• The addition of a “wire transfer” check box in CREA’s template receipt of funds record.
• Other minor changes.
FINTRAC has committed to “a reasonable and flexible approach with respect to the implementation of recent regulatory amendments.”
Revised materials, which incorporate the changes, are now available on REALTOR Link®. Revised forms will be posted on CREA WEBForms® starting May 15, 2020.
Further to this, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, FINTRAC announced on April 23, 2020 that REALTORS® are temporarily allowed to verify their clients’ identities using government-issued photo identification over video conferencing technology where the use of the dual process method or credit file methods of identification are not available. Effective immediately, in such circumstances, a REALTOR® can ask their clients to display their driver’s licenses on video using programs such as Zoom or FaceTime, and rely on their judgement to verify the authenticity of the ID being displayed. However, REALTORS® that rely on this method should keep a record of why it was not possible to verify that client’s identity using traditional methods of identification. They should also keep a record of all clients identified using the temporary flexibility in order to re-verify their identity in accordance with the law when the physical distancing measures have been lifted by public health authorities.
As stated earlier, this is a temporary measure. Despite its temporary status, additional flexibility for identifying clients is welcome and provides REALTORS® with more options to safely meet their legal obligations. Given that the use of video conferencing technology for client verification is something CREA has advocated for years, we will continue to press the government and FINTRAC to maintain this position, once the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.
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