Language selection


FINTRAC releases key characteristics of illicit underground banking through unregistered money services businesses

News Release

May 5, 2022, Ottawa Ontario

FINTRAC published today its new Sectoral and Geographic Advisory, Underground Banking through Unregistered Money Services Businesses, along with a video, to help businesses and Canadians better protect themselves against illicit activities associated with underground banking, and to facilitate the reporting of suspicions of money laundering or terrorist activity financing to FINTRAC.

Based on FINTRAC's analysis of suspicious transaction reports and financial intelligence disclosures to law enforcement related to underground banking, the Sectoral and Geographic Advisory describes key attributes of underground banking in Canada, particularly as it is carried out by unregistered money services businesses in Metro Vancouver, the Greater Toronto Area, and, to a lesser extent, in the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor.

While underground banking is important to diaspora communities to enable the sending and receiving of legitimate funds overseas, the versatility and global reach of these informal value transfer services make them susceptible to misuse, particularly by criminal groups for the purposes of money laundering and terrorist activity financing. The role of professional money launderers in facilitating underground banking is significant. Whether they are business owners, lawyers, accountants or real estate agents, they possess specialized skills, knowledge and networks to transfer or convert criminal proceeds via underground banking and other illicit methods, including the use of money mules, cuckoo smurfing and co-mingling of legitimate and illegitimate funds.

With the suspicious transaction reporting received from businesses subject to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, FINTRAC is able to generate actionable financial intelligence to support the money laundering and terrorist activity financing investigations of Canada's police, law enforcement and national security agencies.


"We are committed to working with Canadian businesses and the public to help identify and target organized crime and other criminal actors who are using the underground banking system to launder their proceeds of crime or fund terrorist activities. Our new Sectoral and Geographic Advisory will help Canadians and Canada's businesses protect themselves from these illicit schemes and provide FINTRAC with the information we need to generate actionable financial intelligence for Canada's police, law enforcement and national security agencies."

Sarah Paquet, Director and Chief Executive Officer, FINTRAC

Quick Facts

Related Products

Associated Links

– 30 –


Media Relations
Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada

Follow us on
Twitter: @FINTRAC_Canada
LinkedIn: FINTRAC Canada|CANAFE Canada
YouTube: FINTRAC Canada

Date Modified: