Canada Fines Chinese Bank for Non-Compliance on Financial Threats

Canada’s financial intelligence arm FINTRAC has imposed a fine on the world’s largest bank, the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), for non-compliance on financial threats.

ICBC (Canada) was found to be non-compliant with provisions of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act following a compliance examination in 2019 and an administrative monetary penalty of $701,250 has been imposed on it, said the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) in a statement released Dec. 23.

Given the high penalty amount, FINTRAC likely deems the violations “serious” or “very serious,” with the latter fetching up to $500,000 per violation for an entity.

In the past year, this constitutes the largest penalty reported by FINTRAC and the only bank to be sanctioned.

FINTRAC says ICBC committed three administrative violations, including “failure to treat activities in respect of some entities as high risk and to take the prescribed special measures,” and “failure to submit suspicious transaction reports where there were reasonable grounds to suspect that transactions were related to a money laundering or a terrorist financing offence.”

“High risk” entities could be those with unexplained sources of funds or those that operate out of specially designated jurisdictions, such as countries afflicted by violent conflicts.

All cash transactions of $10,000 or more, or two or more transactions of $10,000 or more during 24 hours, need to be reported to FINTRAC according to law by reporting entities, but there is no threshold to report a transaction if it is deemed potentially linked to money laundering or terrorist financing.

“FINTRAC is committed to working with businesses to help them understand and comply with their obligations under the Act. At the same time, we will be firm in ensuring that businesses continue to do their part and we will take appropriate actions when they are needed,” stated Sarah Paquet, director and CEO of the financial tracking agency.

ICBC denied any wrongdoing on its part.

“There is no evidence of any misconduct,” said ICBC in a statement obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter.

“A 2019 routine FINTRAC review identified gaps in the Bank’s anti-money laundering program in limited circumstances … The Bank reviewed the findings and concluded they were human and administrative errors.”

In a statement obtained by The Epoch Times, FINTRAC says the violations were administrative in nature and did not constitute money laundering or terrorism financing offences.

FINTRAC says the penalty, imposed on Oct. 4, has been paid in full by ICBC (Canada) and the case is now closed.

A Fitch Ratings report from Dec. 9 says the Chinese regime holds a 73 percent stake in ICBC, which according to Investopedia is the largest bank in the world in terms of total assets under management.

ICBC (Asia) was fined US$2.65 million by Hong Kong’s banking authority in November, also for anti-money laundering breaches.


Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal.

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