Cryptocurrency counters | Revenu Québec has carried out 300 inspections over the past two months

Revenu Québec has conducted more than 300 “formal” inspections of money-services businesses (MSBs) since the publication of an investigation by The Pressat the end of February, on the multiplication of bitcoin counters.

Posted at 8:00 a.m.

Maxime Bergeron

Maxime Bergeron
The Press

“Teams of Revenu Québec inspectors assigned to ESM files are on the road to carry out formal inspections with delivery of statements of offence, if necessary,” spokesperson Marie-Pierre confirmed by email. Blier.

The investigation of The Press revealed the existence of a significant number of cryptocurrency ATMs in the province, located in convenience stores, seedy motels and laundromats, among others. It is possible to buy bitcoins and other virtual currencies with wads of cash.

Transactions under $1,000 can generally be completed without identity verification – a selling point for many operators who promise “completely anonymous” transactions. These machines are an ideal way to launder money from criminal activities, according to several governments and police forces. The UK just banned them for this reason.

An unknown number

Until September 2021, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) was responsible for enforcing the Money Services Businesses Act (LESM) in the province. Revenu Québec took over in the fall and now regulates this sector, which includes currency exchange activities, fund transfers and the operation of automated teller machines (except those of financial institutions).


PHOTO OLIVIER JEAN, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Cryptocurrency counters, where you can buy bitcoins with cash, are found in more and more places in Quebec, including this laundromat in Laval.

Even though it has done more inspections since the end of February, Revenu Québec is still unable to determine the number of cryptocurrency ATMs in operation (there are 270 in Quebec, according to the Coin ATM Radar site). The organization explains the lack of data by saying that “the LESM does not require this information on the permit application”.

However, Revenu Québec is well aware of the number of traditional ATMs, found for example in bars and convenience stores. There were 4,786 at the end of January, a spokesman said.

It was impossible to know why Revenu Québec held the information for one category of ATMs, but not for the other.

Either way, all devices must display a sticker from Revenu Québec (or from the AMF before September 2021) prominently. A recent tour of The Press revealed that some crypto counters did not have a thumbnail, or that it was torn.

The Minister of Finance questioned

Questioned Tuesday in a parliamentary committee in Quebec on cryptocurrency counters, the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, said that it would be possible to ban them, but that such a gesture could give a false sense of security to the public.

“People have access [aux cryptomonnaies] through a multitude of channels. I’m surprised at how easily these products are offered,” he said, giving the example of advertisements broadcast during televised hockey games.

The Minister added that before banning them, there is a need to monitor virtual currency companies, to regulate them and above all to know who owns them.


PHOTO OLIVIER JEAN, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Eric Girard, Minister of Finance

Quebec announced in April 2021 the creation of a committee on cryptocurrencies, which brings together people from the AMF, Revenu Québec, Finances, the SQ and the Canada Revenue Agency. This group aims in particular to prevent fraud, which has seen a meteoric rise over the past year in Canada and elsewhere in the world.

Reports of fraud involving virtual currencies reached $75 million last year in the country, up from just 12.6 million between 2018 and 2020, according to data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Revenu Québec says it conducted a total of 713 inspections “in awareness mode” with MSBs between September 13, 2021 and February 28, 2022. These verifications made it possible to detect “certain non-compliances”, such as deficient record keeping. and the lack of posting of permits.

With the collaboration of Hélène Baril, The Press

Learn more

  • 1900 billion US
    Estimated value of the cryptocurrency industry globally

    Source: www.statista.com

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