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Agents critical of FINTRAC plans

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Real Estate Professional | 27 Apr 2016, 08:15 AM Agree 0
Agents aren’t thrilled about FINTRAC’s meddling with the industry, and they have been quick to air those grievances
  • Tony T | 27 Apr 2016, 11:24 AM Agree 1
    Stop foreign buyers from property purchasing and you wont have to worry about money laundering so much.....
  • Rick | 27 Apr 2016, 11:29 AM Agree 0
    I totally agree - it is not our responsibility nor do we get paid to act as government "agents"!
  • Julie D. Martin | 27 Apr 2016, 11:30 AM Agree 0
    Agree 100%. I am not trained to question who is or who isn't a money launderer. I sell houses, and I'm doggone good at it. If anything ever looks suspicious, I would never be afraid to report it, and I have, but I don't think it's fair for me to question my own clients. If I thought they were questionable people wth questionable intentions, I wouldn't enter into a client relationship with them in the first place.
  • Bill Hubbard | 27 Apr 2016, 11:40 AM Agree 0
    I know that FINTRAC is dramatically affecting the way the Real Estate business does business. The customers hate it and they feel it is infringing on their rights. Over 100,000 Realtors across Canada have had to dramatically altered their business procedures because of FINTRAC. They have to pay people in other cities to view documents and many other problems. However, if it is working it is worth it. What is the pay off? How is it affecting the business of Terrorism and money laundering? How many Real Estate offices have turned up terrorists or money launderers because of FINTRAC procedures? There must be some but I have not heard of any. Does anyone know of a FINTRAC procedure in a Real Estate office actually exposing a Terrorist? So many times government comes up with a solution to a problem but neglects to ask, "What problems will the solution create?"
  • Hodges Hamm | 27 Apr 2016, 11:45 AM Agree 0
    I completely understand that we have to be well aware of whom we are working with, and as well as ensuring that we carry out the requirements as laid down and agreed to by CREA who provided us with the education and the tools to carry out the task on hand which is to ensure that we are dealing with reputable individuals. However, I am becoming more and more disillusioned with the fact that we are now taking on an added responsibility and that is to becoming an investigator in which is an area that I have not been trained in and nor do I have the desire to become one. I believe the Fintrac requirements have gone to far and have imposed to much responsibilities for which we are not compensated for but are subject to possible criminal charges if we do not conform or properly fill out in most cases, unnecessary forms especially when we are dealing with clients that we have know and dealt with for many years, I find it to be invasive to the rights of Canadians. CREA needs to step up to the plate and stop this who process before it goes to far.
  • Luisa Fleming | 27 Apr 2016, 11:46 AM Agree 0
    I agree 100%. The government already made us tax collectors for the HST, which I also disagree with. The job of investigating money laundering and terrorist support should be done by the government agencies specialized in the field. Or the FINTRAC should be limited to the big transactions, but trouble a simple home buyer with limited access to money with this nonsense, is ridiculous. Besides all that, if the government wants to give a job to the agents, we should get paid for doing that job.
  • | 27 Apr 2016, 11:56 AM Agree 0
    Yeah. Those darn foreigners again. I have an idea. Let's take their money then kick them out and keep their money. Yeah! Canada rules. Geez, Adolf Trump should've been a Canadian.
  • Jackie O'Keefe | 27 Apr 2016, 12:08 PM Agree 0
    What I find ridiculous is that we are not trained to detect criminal activity. We are real estate salespeople. What FINTRAC form ever sees the light of day anyway? We are tasked with tracing the origins of money and we are not qualified in any way to do so. The onus shouldn't be on people who aren't trained in criminal activity and we shouldn't be put in what could be a seriously dangerous situation by "catching" something fishy going on.
  • James Oberian | 27 Apr 2016, 12:20 PM Agree 0
    When we as agents (i.e. our brokerages) receive funds, generally the only item we actually "handle" is the deposit. All other funds flow through the lenders/lawyers/notaries. In our shop (and most I believe) that deposit has to come in the form of a bank draft - we're not allowed to accept hard cash. That draft emanates from a financial institution of some sort. Are we supposed to question RBC TD, BMO etc. as to the source of those funds? As far as we're concerned the funds have been sitting in the account the draft is drawn on AT THAT INSTITUTION. Shouldn't that financial institution have questioned the account holder as to where the funds that went into that account came from, ESPECIALLY if they were from offshore? This whole idea of a) blaming the RE companies for not placing a close-enough watch on sources of funds and b) thinking that that should even be our job, is ludicrous. It's simply making us scapegoats for everyone else up the financial/governmental chain not doing their jobs (...or turning a blind eye maybe..?). Everyone knows that a substantial portion of the gargantuan amount of Mainland Chinese money flowing into this country right now, into real estate and everything else, is dirty, one way or another. It's ex-Communist Party officials moving graft, it's businessmen who've paid the graft to make their money placing it in a "safe haven", and it's everything else in between. And everyone knows that's what's driving the YVR and YYZ RE markets. That's the prime mover of the ridiculous price rises we've seen in these cities, which has now kept hard-working, HONEST Canadians from being able to purchase a home. And why do these foreign buyers run up the prices so willingly? Because it "cleans" the money, keeps it safe from confiscation AND there's plenty more where that came from. They simply don't care. Just get it here. One seller client of mine PURPOSELY accepted a slightly lower offer on her West Side property because a lovely family wanted to make it their HOME. The highest offer was an offshore Chinese buyer who HADN'T EVEN LOOKED AT IT. What does that tell you? Government and the your job! Don't download your inefficiencies/lack of diligence on us!!!
  • Claudette | 27 Apr 2016, 12:22 PM Agree 0
    I agree with the previous comment, Stop the forein in purchasing property abroad, and the law should rest at the lawyers office they are the one who exchange the money. It`s a legal matter not a Real estate agent ask to do what we are not trained for.
  • Alister | 27 Apr 2016, 12:44 PM Agree 0
    I have no confidence in FINTRAC, Its a badly conceived process, and a huge waste of time and paper as the information could be entered on just one page for a start!
    We simply copy the clients already gathered and issued Government ID information and, then take a guess at if we think the people are Terrosists or money launderers or perhaps no a risk at all!
    No where on the form does it ask, how was the money made or where did the money came from, its a pathetic bureaucratic waste costing agents time and money with probably nothing to show for it except adding to the deforestation of our wilderness.
  • F. Tracey | 27 Apr 2016, 01:18 PM Agree 1
    I'm an agent. I had a Syrian Foreign buyer approach me through my website. The dialogue went on for months. I felt they were money launderers and I wanted to collect enough evidence to pass over to FINTRAC so they could do an investigation and stop these people. They wanted to send over millions of dollars of money to me in a suitcase, that they would in turn purchase a house with. When I felt I had enough emails to make them a case I reported it to them through the FINTRAC website. An investigator called me and said since they haven't actually done a transaction yet there is no law broken. End of case, they did not care at all nor did they ask me to send over any of my emails.
  • Edie Carvalho | 27 Apr 2016, 01:19 PM Agree 0
    I'm sell Real Estate ! It's not my job to act on behalf of the Government. I'am not qualified and the current Forms are ridiculous.
  • | 27 Apr 2016, 01:23 PM Agree 0
    Here we go again. News Flash all that Fintrac does is warehouse the reams of paperwork we are required to fill out. They have no authority to act of any "suspicious" information. IF the police ask them if they have any records for "John Doe" they then go into action and pass on what they have (if anything). What use is paper that has no signatures by any of the parties that the information is correct. When I asked Fintrac speakers at a seminar "How many bad guys have you caught with the information we gather?" Answer: "we don"t catch anybody we pass on information to police of other authorities". Next question how many bad guys have they caught? Fintrac: "We don't follow up and/or keep any statistics of information we pass long". Seems to me it is a waste of $73,000,000 a year. And the only ones who can be fined or go to jail? You guessed it YOU AND ME.
  • David Lowe | 27 Apr 2016, 01:45 PM Agree 0
    Well, you can thank CREA's "Political Action" division for some of this grief. When the Senate Committee reviewing this legislation was taking submissions from Law Societies, Stock Brokerages etc. etc., CREA made NO submission at all. Therefore, Realtors ended up with way more onerous reporting requirements than the others. As usual, Realtors get the most scrutiny, because we make the easiest targets.
  • Harrythegreat | 27 Apr 2016, 02:34 PM Agree 0
    Money launderers do their buying and selling via lawyers who are exempt from FINTRAC reporting.
  • | 27 Apr 2016, 02:35 PM Agree 0
    If I am not mistaken this is done at the lawyers office, why the duplication. The Bureaucratic wheel continues to grow securing the job for the future & they will continue to add investigators that have no idea what they are looking for and don't care how much they hold you up.
  • Brian Shumak | 27 Apr 2016, 03:07 PM Agree 0
    @ Tony T - you do not need to be a foreigner to money launder so your comment is inane.

    With respect to being the 'police' of money laundering, all that the regulators are doing is making sure that within your normal practice, that you are aware of where things can become "fishy" and then to report it. You do not have to stop the transaction per se, but you do need to report it.

    Am I in anyway suggesting that a financial intermediary should be arresting the person, absolutely not. Rather we are asked to simply report suspicious transactions. Figuring out when something is suspicious is not terribly difficult. If someone is living in a large house and is moving to a larger home but do not qualify for a mortgage and decide to pay it al in cash, duh that might be a fishy situation.

    And for the record, I am not impressed with the audits that the regulators are conducting but the alternative of doing nothing ultimately hurts the rest of the population. Moreover, it is only going to get stickier in the future so better get used to it or find a salaried job somewhere and work 9-5 outside the financial world.
  • The Freis Guys | 27 Apr 2016, 03:16 PM Agree 0
    I always find this so silly. We ID them and go on our merry way. If they have the right ID (usually a driver's license), we don't even think twice. What does this suggest? Terrorists and money launderers don't drive?
  • Tony Mastracci | 27 Apr 2016, 04:11 PM Agree 0
    Look it, the federal authorities know who the terrorist are. I'm sure there is a list somewhere. We, as agents, are sales people PERIOD. Besides, most of the clients we deal with, we are familiar with. If it was a money launderer, I'm sure we would question their intent if their actions are questionable. Please relieve us from this extra paperwork!!!
  • Rick | 27 Apr 2016, 04:20 PM Agree 0
    The best place to have a Fintrac compliance is at the lawyers office on closing. But of course the lawyers will refuse to do it without compensation.
  • Kid Domino | 27 Apr 2016, 06:24 PM Agree 0
    This is Gov't "downloading", trying to be officious and put the fear of God upon us. Me, I'm not that easily manipulated...Do your Job Mr FINTRAC ...get the leads from us and follow up. I'm not a "secret agent"!
  • Shahla Ashtari | 27 Apr 2016, 11:40 PM Agree 0
    When my office asked to submit 4 pages of fintrac, I was confused and sent my concern of Fintrac report to my manager two days ago. I Wrote to him, who am I to rate my client as a high risk or low risk.
    What is the definition of these words. Am I RCMP agent or detector? Money laundering is not our business either.
    All we see from our client is the deposit money for a transaction. You have to question the financial institutions that are handling money for our clients. This fintrac report doesn't make any sense and needs some editing.
  • Steve McGuire | 28 Apr 2016, 10:09 AM Agree 0
    I assume that in all provinces and territories a transaction is closed and completed by a lawyer, people who actually have a significant level of education and training in areas of law. I seems logical to me that this is where the focus of Fintrac's efforts to reduce money laundering in the real estate industry should be. Maybe lawyers have a stronger organization advocating their position than we as realtors do so Fintrac hits harder on realtors. Perhaps we as an organization need to fight harder, more resources, better advisors and lobbyists, say no and back it up with challenges to political and bureaucratic overkill. More power gets more attention!!
  • C Burgess | 28 Apr 2016, 12:31 PM Agree 0
    Not surprising that it went no where.
  • Bo Xilai | 29 Apr 2016, 10:50 AM Agree 0
    Why doesn't the real estate industry stop whining about having to enforce Fintrac regulations? Same with anti-terrorism and money laundering regulations. I work as an associate portfolio manager and whever I sign up clients, I'm subjected to the same regulations.... have been for a long time... and you don't see us complaining and moaning. It's life... get over it. Real estate salespeople make more money than they deserve these days. Let's face it, easy monetary policy, low interest rates and an overly generous immigration program is lining your pockets big time with money you probably aren't worth... So suck it up princesses and join the real world.
  • Diane | 29 Apr 2016, 12:10 PM Agree 0
    I would just like to know why realtors are being told you must complete, personally speaking I AM NOT A PROFILER, I AM NOT THE RCMP, I AM NOT AN UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATOR, I am a professional realtor. Most interesting to me is we have not been taking cash for years now and we get certified cheques or bank drafts, they come from a Bank that knows where the funds are coming from. Why are the agencies that are put in charge of such things wanting the world to do their job and sure would like to know how many criminals we have caught with the thousands of pieces of paper we have completed. They need to review this policy.
  • Cal | 01 May 2016, 02:16 PM Agree 0
    Much of the problem comes with out of country buyers. Why is there not a government agency where foreigners need to apply and receive an approval before they are allowed to make a purchase of a property or business. Have trained investigators that do the back grounds just like our customs officials do and provide them with a approval once vetted? Would save a lot of steps.
  • Phyllis | 02 May 2016, 09:33 AM Agree 0
    I agree that we are not government agents and cannot be expected to be held liable. We are now government agents without pay!!!!
    We can fill out forms, which in my opinion give "other" government agents a job to come to our offices and audit our paperwork. Hurray for them to have a job....I guess... They are intimidating!!!! No need for that. We all want to catch the Bad Guys. But why should we Realtors be treated as the Bad Guys.

    I believe the Powers to Be in the Federal Government should take a harder look at what is expected of us.

    Respect would be nice do you not agree???
  • Madeleine | 04 May 2016, 01:44 PM Agree 0
    Realtors are neither trained nor compensated for police work. Also, if house buying is such a good tool for money laundering, where is the obligation and training for FSBOS?
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