In-Sights: "A strong message…"

Canadian bank fined $1.1M for failing to report suspicious dealings, CTV News, April 5, 2016

The federal anti-money laundering agency has levied a $1.1-million penalty against an unnamed Canadian bank for failing to report a suspicious transaction and various money transfers.

It is the first time the Ottawa-based Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, known as Fintrac, has penalized a bank. The centre identifies cash linked to terrorism, money laundering and other crimes…

Fintrac spokesman Darren Gibb says he cannot legally discuss details of the bank’s infraction, and the agency is exercising its discretion to withhold the financial institution’s identity.

But Fintrac wants to send a strong message that it will take whatever measures are needed to encourage compliance with the law…

A strong message, really? Instead, Fintrac’s action demonstrates that oligarchs and influential institutions are not subject to laws that apply to others. I see a parallel to management of the Panama Papers that writer Craig Murray describes.

Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1 Percent From Panama Leak, Truthdig, April 4, 2016

The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires—the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.”

…Do not expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. The dirty secrets of western corporations will remain unpublished.

While the $1.1 million penalty assessed a Canadian organization may seem substantial, we should evaluate its severity by considering ability to pay. Canada’s two largest banks are Royal Bank and TD Bank. The first has assets of $1.20 trillion and the other has $1.17 trillion. For either, a $1.1 million penalty is equivalent to 9¢ for an individual with $100,000 in assets. For CIBC, the smallest of Canada’s big-five banks, the equivalency is 23¢.

Keeping the wrongdoer’s name secret is another benefit for plutocrats. Bank executives may want to avoid dealing with shame at the country club but there is a widely accepted tenet of justice that calls for punishment to be in public view for deterrence and denunciation. However, in Canada, under Harper Conservatives and now the Trudeau Liberals, favoured groups are exempted from meaningful punishment.

Perhaps because controlling shareholder Murray Edwards arranged millions for BC Liberals, Imperial Mines was not charged for the catastrophic failure of the tailings dam at its Mount Polley gold and copper mine. Several communities experienced a state of emergency and drinking water bans. Meanwhile, this year in North Vancouver provincial court, homeowners were fined $100,000 when their landscaping project led to a sediment dump into a small creek that affected the water supplies of no communities.

Landslide on ground they made unstable put homeowners in court. They didn’t donate millions to #BCLiberals. #bcpoli

— Norm Farrell (@Norm_Farrell) April 3, 2016

The National Observer is publishing Secrets of Government, a series of special reports describing what happens in the back rooms of power. We’ve seen secret no-penalty, no-prosecution deals CRA gave high-net-worth Canadians, continuation of huge subsidies to fossil fuel industries, regulators co-operating with businesses they allegedly regulate, political appointees waiving fines assessed by inspectors against pipeline operators and countless other examples. However, if an ordinary citizen seeks accommodations from government, the likelihood of receiving it is remote. One CRA program was supposed to ensure fair treatment but it has been so understaffed that the initial response to an individual’s application could take more than a year. Because stalled fairness applications weren’t fair, CRA made a change:

The Taxpayer Relief service standard is being deleted due to an inability to report reliable results.

Returning to the subject of Fintrac’s “strong” message, I wonder if the bankers’ reaction to the agency’s warning was something like Churchill’s in the 1941 Canadian Parliament when he offered this famed riposte to French Generals:

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