Financial Crime Coordination Centre Co-leads Financial Action Task Force Report on Money Laundering from Synthetic Opioids

News release

December 12, 2022 - Ottawa, Ontario

Canada continues to face an ongoing overdose crisis, fueled by a toxic illegal drug supply. This is a devastating global trend that has sadly taken a tragic toll on the people who use substances, their families, loved ones and communities across the country and around the world.

In its first ever report on money laundering from powerful synthetic opioids like illegal fentanyl, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) exposes how organized crime groups use a range of methods to launder proceeds from the illegal drug trade and clandestine production and the global supply chains that enable it. These tactics include bulk cash smuggling, cash couriers, trade-based money laundering (TBML) and virtual assets (crypto), as well as shell companies and the services of professional money launderers.

Co-led by Canada, through the Financial Crime Coordination Centre (FC3), and the United States, the FATF report demonstrates how financial experts are working together in an increasingly complex financial world to understand and stem the flow of illicit proceeds fueling the highly toxic illegal drug supply and help save lives.

Money laundering not only threatens the integrity and stability of the financial sector and broader economy, it also harms Canadians’ safety, security and quality of life. This report provides actionable information for law enforcement, regulators and the private sector to respond to substance-related harms and build safer, healthier communities.  

Quick facts

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global money laundering and terrorist financing inter-governmental body, which sets international standards to counter these illegal activities. As a founding member of the FATF, Canada works in partnership with member countries to review money laundering and terrorist financing techniques, while continuously strengthening its standards to address new risks.

  • The Financial Crime Coordination Centre (FC3) within Public Safety is a five-year pilot initiative to bolster Canada’s response to complex and fast-moving financial crimes through stronger coordination across all levels of government. FC3 is now operational and is supporting Anti-Money Laundering (AML) enforcement partners through: legislative and policy initiatives; enhancing training and expertise development; and operational support and guidance.

  • Since 2019, the government has made investments of $319.9 million, with $48.8 million ongoing, to strengthen the federal Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing Regime (AML/ATF). These investments strengthen data resources, financial intelligence, information sharing and investigative capacity to support money laundering investigations in Canada. 

  • This includes $98.9 million for the RCMP to strengthen its Federal Policing capacity, with $19.8 million to staff new, specialized positions dedicated to investigating money laundering and proceeds of crime across the country, as well as approximately $28 million over four years and $10 million ongoing to create a Trade Fraud and Trade-Based Money Laundering (TBML) Centre of Expertise (COE) at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

  • In Budget 2022, the government announced further measures to bolster Canada’s ability to counter complex financial crimes, including by extending AML/ATF obligations to payment service providers and crowdfunding platforms. The Government also committed to develop a new Canadian Financial Crimes Agency (CFCA). The Agency will become the lead federal enforcement entity responsible for investigating these complex crimes and will conduct a comprehensive review of the Regime to address any gaps.  

  • Additionally, to counter the misuse of anonymous Canadian companies for money laundering, tax evasion and other financial crimes, the government is accelerating by two years its commitment to implement a public and searchable beneficial ownership registry, which will now be accessible before the end of 2023. A first set of legislative amendments needed to stand up the registry received Royal Assent in June 2022.

  • An October 2021 assessment by the Financial Action Task Force affirmed that Canada made substantial progress in improving compliance with international AML/ ATF standards since its last evaluation in 2016.

  • Canada continues to work with its North American partners through the Joint Action Plan on Opioids (OAP) and the North American Drug Dialogue (NADD) to address opioids trafficking, including fentanyl and other synthetic opioids; and the health consequences of opioid use through public health, law enforcement and border security cooperation, as well as sharing information and best practices.

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