Real estate agents don't always report suspicious transactionsUnder federal law, real estate agents are required to identify their clients, verify where their money is coming from and report suspicious or large cash transactions to FINTRAC.
FINTRAC says the level of compliance to reporting suspicious transactions is low. (Photo: Getty Images)FINTRAC has dedicated "significant time and effort" to working with the Canadian Real Estate Association, the agency said in an email, including reviewing the association's online training, providing feedback on the group's anti-money laundering manual and helping interpret policies. "What we have found more generally in the real estate sector are issues with compliance regimes, policies and procedures, training, as well as record-keeping and reporting," FINTRAC spokeswoman Renée Bercier said in an email. "The level of compliance knowledge and resources varies across the sector and is often a function of an entity's size, capacity and access to resources." Randall McCauley, vice-president of government and public relations for the Canadian Real Estate Association, admits that compliance is a challenge within the industry.
Rules don't match the real estate industryOne of the reasons is because some of the rules are out of synch with how the industry operates, McCauley says. For example, under the regulations, an individual who conducts two transactions within several years is considered higher risk and should be subject to additional monitoring, McCauley says. However, McCauley notes that it's very common for a family to sell a home and then purchase a new one within a very short time frame. "I think there's room for FINTRAC to work with us to understand the nature of the business," McCauley says.
McCauley says CREA has been investing significantly in trying to bring realtors up to speed with federal rules, including sending two representatives on a cross-country tour to deliver presentations to its members. He says that despite its recent efforts, FINTRAC is not doing its part. "If you were doing nothing and you do something then technically, I guess, yes that's an improvement," McCauley says. The federal agency has also not been very clear in its answers to CREA's policy questions, McCauley says. "Any rule, regulation or law is subject to interpretation," he says. "We're asking, 'How would you interpret this regulation?' ... and they won't give us a clear answer." ——— Follow @alexposadzki on Twitter
"If you were doing nothing and you do something then technically, I guess, yes that's an improvement."
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