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British Columbia Proposes Money Services Business Legislation

On March 29, 2023, the British Columbia (“BC”) government introduced Bill 19-2023:Money Services Businesses Act (the “BC MSB Act”) which will require money services businesses (“MSBs”) to register provincially in the Province of British Columbia with the BC Financial Services Authority (“BCFSA”), in addition to the requirement to register federally with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and in Quebec with Revenu Quebec. Establishing a separate BC MSB registration regime was one of the recommendations in the Cullen Commission report.

The MSB Act defines “money services” as (1) foreign exchange dealing, (2) remitting or transmitting funds, (3) issuing or redeeming traveller’s cheques and money orders, and (4) services prescribed by regulation. Insurance companies, savings institutions, trust companies, securities dealers, casinos and Crown corporations will be exempt from the registration requirement.

The BCFSA will appoint a new Superintendent of Money Services Businesses (the “Superintendent”). The Superintendent will be permitted to impose, vary and remove conditions and restrictions on a registration, and will establish and maintain a publicly accessible register of registered MSBs. 

Registrants will be required to provide written notice to the Superintendent of certain changes, including changes in directors and changes in ownership, and will be required to report annually to the Superintendent on the registrant’s activities. In addition, registrants will be required to maintain records in accordance with the regulations. Registrants will be prohibited from providing false or misleading information in their registration application or in reports provided under the BC MSB Act.

The Superintendent will have powers to conduct investigations, apply to the court for an order authorizing a search or seizure, and issue orders, including orders to cease provision of money services in BC. The Superintendent will also be able to impose administrative penalties (AMPs) up to $100,000. In addition, persons who commit an offence under the BC MSB Act can be liable to a fine of not more than $200,000.

Regulations and guidance providing additional details on the new regime, including information on timing of registration and registration fees, will follow.

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