Source: FINTRAC guidance related to the Ministerial Directive on Financial Transactions Associated with the Islamic Republic of Iran issued on July 25, 2020 (fintrac-canafe.gc.ca)

February 2021

This guidance is related to the Ministerial Directive (MD) issued by the Minister of Finance that was published in the Canada Gazette and came into force on July 25, 2020.

This guidance will answer the following questions:

  1. Why was this MD issued?
  2. When does this MD come into force and who does it apply to?
  3. What are the requirements of this MD?
  4. What records must you keep under this MD and what is the retention period?
  5. How do you report the transactions captured under this MD?

1) Why was this MD issued?

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issued a statement in February 2020 which expressed its particular and exceptional concerns regarding Iran’s failure to address strategic deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, and the serious threat this poses to the integrity of the international financial system. The FATF called on its members to apply effective counter-measures to protect their financial sectors from such risks.

As such, Canada’s Finance Minister, under subsection 11.42(1) of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) issued this MD to ensure the safety and integrity of Canada’s financial system.This MD includes requirements that:

  • enhance existing obligations of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations (PCMLTFR); and
  • extend the obligations of the PCMLTFR.

2) When does this MD come into force and who does it apply to?

This MD comes into effect on July 25, 2020, and is applicable to every person or entity referred to in paragraphs 5(a), (b) and (h) of the PCMLTFA. The specific persons and entities that are to take action in response to this MD are banks, credit unions, financial services cooperatives, caisses populaires, authorized foreign banks and money services businesses (MSBs).

3) What are the requirements of this MD?

Every bank, credit union, financial services cooperative, caisse populaire, authorized foreign bank and MSB mustFootnote1:

  • treat every financial transaction originating from or bound for Iran, regardless of its amount, as a high-risk transaction for the purposes of subsection 9.6(3) of the PCMLTFA;
  • verify the identity of any client (person or entity) requesting or benefiting from such a transaction in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations (PCMLTFR)Footnote2;
  • exercise customer due diligence, including ascertaining the source of funds in any such transaction, the purpose of the transaction and, where appropriate, the beneficial ownership or control of any entity requesting or benefiting from the transactionFootnote3;
  • keep and retain a record of any such transaction, in accordance with the PCMLTFRFootnote4; and
  • report all such transactions to the CentreFootnote5.

a) Determining that a transaction originated from or is bound for Iran

When determining whether a transaction originates from or is bound for Iran, you need to look at a variety of elements because the circumstances of each transaction are different. You must consider the facts, contexts and indicators of a transaction to determine whether it is subject to the MD. Transactions originating from or bound for Iran may include, but are not limited to:

  • electronic funds transfers, remittances or transfers (EFTs) that include an Iranian originating or destination address – this may include transactions where the ordering person or entity, beneficiary, or third party details are Iranian;
  • the activities of representatives of the Government of Iran (for example, transactions on an Embassy of Iran’s bank account in Canada);
  • receiving Iranian rial as a deposit to an account or for a virtual currency (VC) transaction;
  • conducting a foreign currency or VC exchange transaction that includes Iranian rial (for example, Canadian dollar to Iranian rial, Iranian rial to US dollar, VC to Iranian rial, etc.); and
  • issuing or redeeming bank drafts or other negotiable instruments that include an Iranian rial component.

For further clarity, this MD does not apply to transactions where there is no suspicion or explicit connection with Iran and there is no evidence of the transaction originating from or being bound for Iran. For example:

  • a client who has previously sent funds to Iran requests an outgoing EFT, where the transaction details do not suggest that this transaction is bound for Iran and you are unable to obtain further details about the transaction destination;
  • the client’s identification information is the only suggestion of a connection to Iran (for example, a transaction where the conductor’s identification document is an Iranian passport); or
  • the details of a person, who is your client in Canada, are Iranian, but there are no additional details on the entity involved, or the sender of, or the recipient to, the transaction, to suggest the transaction is associated with Iran.

For further clarity if the details of your client in Canada include an Iranian address and the client requests that funds be sent to a beneficiary in a country other than Iran, where additional facts, context and indicators (for example beneficiary account details) point to an association with Iran, then this transaction must be considered as bound for Iran, and treated accordingly.

Similarly, if the details of your client in Canada include an Iranian address and this client receives funds into their account from a sending account in a country other than Iran, but where additional facts, context and indicators (for example sending account details), point to an association with Iran, then this transaction must be considered as originating from Iran, and treated accordingly.

Alternatively, if the details of your client in Canada include an Iranian address and this client requests that funds be sent to a beneficiary in a country other than Iran, for which additional facts, context and indicators do not bring to light an association with Iran, then this transaction is not required to be considered for the purpose of the MD.

Unless the transaction is being carried out by, or benefitting, a representative of the Government of Iran in Canada, then the details of your client in Canada are not likely enough to consider the transaction against the obligations of the MD.

** Note: When you have determined that a transaction originated from or was bound for Iran, you must apply the measures outlined in the MD.

b) Verifying the identity of every client who requests or benefits from a transaction originating from or bound for Iran

Under this MD, you are required to take enhanced identification measures that go beyond the identification triggers and requirements prescribed under the PCMLTFR. Transactions that fall below the reporting threshold amounts (outlined in the PCMLTFR) typically do not require that you verify the identity of clients. However, under this MD, you must:

  • verify the identity of every client (including those you have a business relationship with) that requests or benefits from such a transaction in any amount in accordance with the methods prescribed in the PCMLTFR; and
  • for transactions that meet the reporting threshold amounts, apply enhanced measures to verify the identity of each client, as described in FINTRAC’s Ongoing monitoring guidance. Enhanced measures could include obtaining additional information on the client (for example, occupation, volume of assets, information available through public databases, Internet, etc.); gathering additional documents, data or information; or taking additional steps to verify the documents obtained, etc.

c) Additional measures required

You must treat all transactions originating from or bound for Iran as high risk. In addition to verifying the identity of any client requesting or benefiting from such a transaction, under this MD, you must:

  • apply customer due diligence measures to these clients for all transactions (any amount);
  • assess the client information to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to suspect the commission or attempted commission of a money laundering or terrorist activity financing infraction and to report it through a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) or Terrorist Property Report (TPR) to FINTRAC;
  • apply enhanced measures to every client who meets the identification threshold (threshold transactions)Footnote6;
  • obtain the purpose and the source of funds of any such transaction; and
  • if applicable, obtain the beneficial ownership or control information of any entity requesting or benefiting from such a transaction.

** Note: It is the RE that owns the relationship with the client that is required to carry out the additional measures outlined in the Directive (i.e., verifying the identity of the client, and exercising the customer due diligence measures).

4) What records must you keep under this MD and what is the retention period?

a. Records of electronic funds transfers– of any amount

For an EFT of any amount originating from or bound for Iran, you must keep:

b. Records of receipt of Cash – of any amount

You must keep a record of every cash transaction (any amount) that you receive that reflects a connection to Iran (such as cash received for the issuance of negotiable instruments or foreign exchange using Iranian rial). You must record:

  • the information included in a large cash transaction record, even if the transaction is below $10,000 CAD, and the information included in a foreign currency exchange transaction record, including the information that is required when a transaction is over $3000 CAD :
  • the source of funds of the transaction; and
  • the purpose of the transaction.

c. Records of redeeming other negotiable instruments and records for issuing or redeeming transactions – of any amount:

Transactions originating from or bound for Iran also include the redemption of other negotiable instruments (for example, bank drafts, money orders, traveller’s cheques, etc.) in any amount. These too will have to reflect a connection with Iran, such as the use of Iranian rial in the transaction, for the MD to be applicable. You must record:

  • the information included in a transaction record, even if the transaction is below $3,000 CAD:
  • the source of funds of the transaction; and
  • the purpose of the transaction.

d. Information on records and retention

If you are required by this MD to keep a record of information that is readily available in other records, you do not have to record the same information again. This means that if you keep the required information and can produce it during a FINTRAC examination, you do not need to create a new record to meet the obligations.

You must keep all records applicable to this MD in accordance with their associated record retention requirement, or for at least five years from the date the record was created.

5) How do you report the transactions captured under this MD?

a. Reporting an EFT in any amount to FINTRAC:

  • SWIFT EFTs that are under the reporting threshold of $10,000 CAD and do not aggregate to $10,000 CAD under the 24-hour rule and involve Iranian Rial (IRR), must be reported using the SWIFT Electronic Funds Transfer Report with the following addition:
    • Insert the prefix IR2020 before entering your REs report reference number. For example, if your RE’s report reference number is ABCD1234, then your RE’s report reference number would be IR2020ABCD1234.
  • SWIFT EFTs that are under the reporting threshold of $10,000 CAD, do not aggregate to $10,000 CAD under the 24-hour rule, and do not involve IRR, must be reported using the Non-SWIFT Electronic Funds Transfer Report with the following addition:  
    • Insert the prefix IR2020 before entering your RE’s report reference number. For example, if your RE’s report reference number is ABCD1234, then your RE’s report reference number would be IR2020ABCD1234.

**Note: These transactions must have an Iranian address in at least one of the fields.

  • Non-SWIFT EFTs that are under the reporting threshold of $10,000 CAD, and do not aggregate to $10,000 CAD under the 24-hour rule, must be reported using the Non-SWIFT Electronic Funds Transfer Report with the following addition:
    • Insert the prefix IR2020 before entering your RE’s report reference number. For example, if your RE’s report reference number is ABCD1234, then your RE’s report reference number would be IR2020ABCD1234.
  • SWIFT and Non-SWIFT EFTs of $10,000 CAD or more, and SWIFT and Non-SWIFT EFTs resulting from aggregated transactions of $10,000 CAD or more captured under the 24-hour rule are to be reported normally:
    • No prefix is required.
  • Transfers of funds within Canada, of any amount, where it is deemed that the transaction is originating from, or bound for, Iran, must be reported using the STR as follows:
    • Insert the prefix IR2020 before entering your RE’s report reference number. For example, if your RE’s report reference number is ABCD1234, then your RE’s report reference number would be IR2020ABCD1234.
    • As applicable Part B1, Item 5 – “other description” – transfer gov’t Iran
    • As applicable Part B2, Item 12 – “other description” – transfer, gov’t Iran
    • Insert the prefix IR2020 into the G section of the STR as well.
    • Because the report is related to the MD, you must ensure that information provided, such as currency type, or address or disposition details, reflect the connection to Iran.

b. Reporting the receipt of any amount of cash to FINTRAC:

  • Any cash transaction that is received under the reporting threshold of $10,000 CAD that does not aggregate to $10,000 CAD under the 24-hour rule must be reported using the Large Cash Transaction Report (LCTR) with the following addition:
    • Insert the prefix IR2020 before entering your REs report reference number. For example, if your REs report reference number is ABCD1234, then your REs report reference number would be IR2020ABCD1234.
  • Large cash transactions of $10,000 CAD or more, and large cash transactions that total $10,000 CAD or more when aggregated under the 24-hour rule are to be reported normally:
    • No prefix is required.
    • If the threshold report is related to the MD, you must ensure that the originator or beneficiary address is Iranian.

c. Reporting negotiable instruments and issuing or redeeming transactions or the exchange of VC for Iranian rial:

  • Any negotiable instrument, and issuing or redeeming transaction that originates from or is bound for Iran, must be reported using the STR. The STR should also be used to report the exchange of VC for Iranian rial. In order to identify these transactions, submit the STR with the following additions when the transactions do not meet the reasonable grounds to suspect the commission or attempted commission of a money laundering or a terrorist activity financing offence threshold:
    • Insert the prefix IR2020 before entering your REs report reference number. For example, if your REs report reference number is ABCD1234, then your REs report reference number would be IR2020ABCD1234.
    • Insert the prefix IR2020 into the G section of the STR as well.
    • Because the report is related to the MD, you must ensure that there is a connection to Iran, such as the Iranian rial, or the originator or beneficiary address is Iranian.

d. Reporting suspicious transactions and terrorist property:

  • All transactions that are associated with Iran must be treated as high risk and must be monitored for the purpose of determining whether an STR or a Terrorist Property report (TPR) must be submitted to FINTRAC.
  • For the purpose of this Directive, only completed transactions must be reported if the sole reason for reporting is that the transaction is inbound from, or outgoing to, Iran. Attempted transactions remain reportable in instances where the RE has reasonable grounds to suspect that the transaction is related to the attempted commission of a money laundering or a terrorist activity financing offence.
  • See Reporting suspicious transactions to FINTRAC and What is a suspicious transaction report for more information.
  • If you have property in your possession or control that you know or believe is owned or controlled by or on behalf of a listed person or a terrorist group you must submit a TPR to FINTRAC. This includes information about any transaction or proposed transaction relating to that property. See Reporting terrorist property to FINTRAC for more information.

e. Reporting timeframes

  • Where the Directive reflects an enhancement to a current transaction reporting obligation (for example, the threshold to report has been reduced or eliminated) the timing for reporting that transaction remains that of the obligation being enhanced:
    • EFTs must be reported no later than five working days after the day the RE knows that the transfer must be reported;
    • Large cash transactions must be reported within 15 days after the transaction.
  • Where the Directive reflects an extension of reporting obligations to transactions that previously had no reporting obligation, such as the redemption of a negotiable instrument, transfers of funds within Canada, which are to be reported by means of the suspicious transaction reporting form, it is reasonable for the RE to report this as soon as practicable.

Other

Your compliance program’s policies and procedures should already include information on how your organization becomes aware of MDs issued by the Minister of Finance and information on how your organization will respond. Once an MD has been issued, you must take steps to meet its requirements.

Your policies and procedures must also fully describe how you will make the determination that a transaction originates from or is bound for Iran and what specific mitigation measures you will take upon making this determination. For example, your policies and procedures could outline that you ask the purpose of a transaction. Similarly, you could research the origin or destination of a transaction to determine if the details about the sender, beneficiary or entities involved in the transaction, indicate that the transaction is originating from or bound for Iran.

Guidance on how to conduct and document your risk assessment can be found in the Risk assessment guidance. You are required to implement certain measures to mitigate the risk of transactions involving jurisdictions that are identified in MDs. Examples of these measures can be found in General information on Part 1.1 of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act provided by the Department of Finance Canada.

During a compliance examination, FINTRAC may assess your compliance with any MD in order to verify that you have taken appropriate mitigating measures in relation to related transactions. FINTRAC may also review your overall risk assessment to verify that you have documented and assessed the risk related to your business activities and clients involving these jurisdictions. Failure to comply with the measures of an MD is a very serious offence. The existing administrative monetary penalties (AMP) regime extends to all MDs, and failure to comply with a directive could result in a penalty. Penalties applicable to the breach of a directive can be found in the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing AMP Regulations.

Annex: Frequently Asked Questions in relation to the Ministerial Directive on Financial Transactions Associated with the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which establishes international standards to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, issued a statement in February 2020 which expressed its exceptional concerns regarding Iran’s failure to address strategic deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, and the serious threat this poses to the integrity of the international financial system.

The FATF called on its members to apply effective countermeasures to protect their financial sectors from such risks. Canada, as member of the FATF, responded by issuing a Directive from the Minister of Finance (Ministerial Directive) under provisions of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) designed to ensure the safety and integrity of Canada’s financial system.

What does this Ministerial Directive apply to?

The Ministerial Directive applies to every financial transaction originating from, or bound for, the Islamic Republic of Iran (“Iran”), regardless of the amount.

Transactions originating from or bound for Iran may include, but are not limited to:

  • electronic funds transfers, remittances or transfers (EFTs) that include an Iranian originating or destination address – this may include transactions where the ordering person or entity, beneficiary, or third party details are Iranian;
    • originating from or bound for Iran does not mean that it has to be a direct path but where the RE believes it could be associated with Iran.
  • the activities of representatives of the Government of Iran (for example, transactions on an Embassy of Iran’s bank account in Canada);
  • receiving Iranian rial as a deposit to an account or for a virtual currency (VC) transaction;
  • conducting a foreign currency or VC exchange transaction that includes Iranian rial (for example, Canadian dollar to Iranian rial, Iranian rial to US dollar, VC to Iranian rial, etc.); and
  • issuing or redeeming bank drafts or other negotiable instruments that include an Iranian rial component.

This MD does not apply to transactions where there is no suspicion or explicit connection with Iran and there is no evidence of the transaction originating from or being bound for Iran. For example:

  • a client who has previously sent funds to Iran requests an outgoing EFT, where the transaction details do not suggest that this transaction is bound for Iran and you are unable to obtain further details about the transaction destination;
  • the client’s identification information is the only suggestion of a connection to Iran (for example, a transaction where the conductor’s identification document is an Iranian passport); or
  • the details of a person, who is your client in Canada, are Iranian, but there are no additional details on the entity involved, or the sender of, or the recipient to, the transaction, to suggest the transaction is associated with Iran.

Is the Ministerial Directive related to economic sanctions?

No, the requirements are distinct from any economic sanctions in relation to Iran. Even transactions permissible under economic sanctions are subject to the Ministerial Directive if they originate from, or are bound for, Iran.

Global Affairs Canada is responsible for the Canadian economic sanctions regime and sanctions imposed against foreign states, individuals or entities.

What does the Ministerial Directive require?

Banks (including authorized foreign banks), credit unions, financial services cooperatives, caisses populaires, and money services businesses (collectively “Financial Entity”) are required to treat every financial transactions originating from, or bound for, Iran as high-risk. If you are sending, receiving and/or benefitting from such a financial transaction, your Financial Entity is required to verify the client’s identity, obtain information on the source of funds involved and the purpose of the financial transaction, including additional information as required. In the case where you are a business sending, receiving and/or benefitting from such a financial transaction, your Financial Entity is also required to determine the beneficial ownership or control of the business. In addition, a Financial Entity is required to report all such financial transactions to FINTRAC.

** Note: It is the RE that owns the relationship with the client that is required to carry out the additional measures outlined in the Directive (i.e., verifying the identity of the client, and exercising the customer due diligence measures).

Does this apply to transactions above a certain amount?

No, the Ministerial Directive applies to every financial transaction originating from or bound for Iran, regardless of its amount.

When did this come into effect? How long does it last?

The Ministerial Directive came into effect July 25, 2020. It remains in effect until rescinded by the Minister of Finance.

Should I be concerned that my financial transactions to or from Iran are being reported to FINTRAC?

The reporting of financial transactions under the Ministerial Directive does not equate to any presumption of wrongdoing nor does it ban or prohibit related transactions. The purpose of this Ministerial Directive is to implement countermeasures (enhanced due diligence and reporting of all transactions), called for by the Financial Action Task Force, in relation to the Islamic Republic of Iran, due to its significant strategic deficiencies in its regime to counter money laundering and terrorist activity financing. These countermeasures are to protect the international financial system from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist activity financing risks emanating from the Islamic Republic of Iran, by limiting or deterring prescribed transactions.

FINTRAC already receives mandatory reporting of cash transactions and international electronic funds transfers of $10,000 or more. These are referred to as threshold reports, and must be reported to FINTRAC even when there is no presumption of wrongdoing. The reporting of financial transactions under the Ministerial Directive imposes a similar reporting obligation.

Will Iranian nationals or Iranian citizens have all their transactions scrutinized in this manner?

The Ministerial Directive applies to financial transactions originating from, or bound for, Iran. It is not based on nationality or citizenship.


0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published.

6047679529
Directions