Intelligence agency disclosures rise in fight against terror

New figures show Canada’s financial sleuthing agency disclosed more than 1,000 pieces of intelligence to police and security agencies last year

OTTAWA – New figures show Canada’s financial sleuthing agency disclosed more than 1,000 pieces of intelligence to police and security agencies last year.

The Ottawa-based Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, known as FinTRAC, says the intelligence contributed to hundreds of police investigations.

The centre identifies cash linked to terrorism, money laundering and other crimes by sifting through millions of pieces of data annually from banks, insurance companies, securities dealers, money service businesses, real estate brokers, casinos and others.

The agency’s annual report, tabled quietly this week in Parliament, says the 1,143 disclosures to law-enforcement agencies in 2013-14 were up from 919 the previous year.

While the vast majority of them involved money laundering, 234 were related to terrorist financing or threats to the security of Canada, and 64 involved all three issues.

The centre says resulting police investigations included a two-year RCMP probe of a drug-trafficking organization with alleged ties to international organized crime groups.

FinTRAC also contributed to the Mounties’ probe of the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy-Canada, an outfit accused of links to terrorist organization Hamas.

“With these types of crimes, there are victims, there is often violence, and there is real social harm,” the report says.

“Often based on hundreds or even thousands of financial transactions, our disclosures may show links between individuals and businesses that have not been otherwise identified in an investigation, and help investigators refine the scope of their cases or shift their sights to different targets.”

The intelligence agency recently acknowledged it is helping police and spies trace money flowing into the coffers of Islamic extremists fighting overseas.

The RCMP received most of FinTRAC’s disclosures last year, with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and municipal police forces ranking second and third respectively. Foreign counterparts, the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canada Border Services Agency, provincial police and the Communications Security Establishment – Canada’s electronic spy agency – also received intelligence from FinTRAC.

The agency says it has made changes to its systems and processes to address concerns raised by the federal privacy commissioner. For instance, it has made provisions to separate and destroy information received from businesses that should not be kept.

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