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British Columbia Proposes Money Services Business Legislation (Bill 19: 2023)

Blakes | Jacqueline D. Shinfield and Alan Fraser | Apr 12, 2023

Bill 19 2023 Money services businesses act - British Columbia Proposes Money Services Business Legislation (Bill 19: 2023)

On March 29, 2023, British Columbia introduced Bill 19, the Money Services Businesses Act (B.C. MSB Act), which proposes to regulate money services businesses (MSBs) operating in the province.

  • The regulation of MSBs in B.C. was one of the recommendations of the Cullen Commission, which concluded that greater scrutiny of MSB activities was required, beyond that provided by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre.
    • The B.C. MSB Act defines a money services business (MSB) similar to the PCMLTFA, but the interpretation of what constitutes an MSB has always been subject to debate.
    • The Act exempts financial institutions, securities dealers, and insurance companies from its scope and proposes exemption of other MSBs pursuant to the regulations.
    • Unregistered MSBs are prohibited from bringing an action for remuneration in relation to money services provided.
    • MSBs registered under the B.C. MSB Act must provide annual reports to BCFSA respecting their activities, and there are record-keeping requirements for "books, accounts and other records."
    • MSBs must notify BCFSA of certain events, including changes in information, appointment of a new agent, change of directors and officers, change of partners in a partnership, and changes in corporate interest holders.
    • The Superintendent has broad enforcement powers, including administrative penalties and imprisonment for committing offences.
    • MSBs must report any offence committed related to registration under the B.C. MSB Act to the Superintendent.

See:  Cullen Commission Money Laundering Report Estimates Billions Laundered in B.C. Every Year

  • Impact:  The B.C. MSB Act proposes that the British Columbia Financial Services Authority (BCFSA), the provincial regulator of financial institutions, be responsible for the regulation of MSBs operating in the province. BCFSA will appoint a Superintendent of Money Services Businesses (Superintendent) to supervise MSBs. It is unclear how the B.C. MSB Act will impact the obligations of MSBs until regulations are established. The Act seems to be focused on preventing "bad actors" from operating as MSBs in the province.

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