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Canada Enlists the Help of Banks To Restrict Finances of Protestors

The Canadian government gave banks the authority to freeze finances and manually assess all account holders without a court order

Canada has enlisted the help of financial institutions to restrict funding, and personal financial access of protesters involved in the Freedom Convoy protests against COVID-19 mandates this week.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the seldom-used Emergencies Act. The act imposed comprehensive measures requiring banks to freeze financial accounts linked to protestors without the need for a court order. The measure also asks insurance companies to cancel coverage on vehicles used in the protests and encompass crowdfunding platforms under “terrorism” financing oversight.

Regulations released last Tuesday broadened the scope of impact on finances. The Canadian government ordered banks, credit unions, investment firms, crowdfunding, and donation platforms to cease financial services to people suspected of participating in the protests.

The Canadian Bankers Association said all financial institutions “will need to diligently implement the required measures.” They noted that most institutions would need to manually assess personal financial data on all customers to determine if they are part of the “illegal protests” that have impacted the nation.

Canadian law enforcement began sharing information with the country’s financial institutions and international banking groups. Many of the institutions have already taken action based on the Emergencies Act and data provided by the Canadian government.

In a press conference on Sunday, Mike Duheme, Royal Canadian Mounted Police deputy commissioner of federal policing, said the Emergencies Act had helped with the police operation.

Canadian authorities froze finances associated with individuals and companies believed to be involved in the protest, Duheme said.

The RCMP froze 206 financial products, including bank and corporate accounts. Authorities disclosed the information of 56 entities associated with vehicles, individuals, and companies who allegedly helped further the protests. They also shared 253 bitcoin addresses with cryptocurrency exchanges. Under the Emergencies Act, they also froze a payment processing account containing an estimated $3.8 million, Duheme told the news conference.

“We continue to work at collecting relevant information on persons, vehicles, and companies and remain in daily communication with the financial institutions to assist them,” Duheme said.

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