Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for the invitation to appear before you.
My name is Mark Schaan, and I serve as Director General of the Marketplace Framework Policy Branch in the Strategic and Innovation Policy Sector of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
The sector broadly includes such policy areas as innovation, telecommunications, and clean technology. However, my branch specifically analyzes the role of marketplace framework laws in meeting the department's objectives.
While the review you are now conducting covers specifically the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, or PCMLTFA, it should be acknowledged that other pieces of legislation contribute to trust and confidence in the marketplace. In that sense, they reinforce the objectives of the PCMLTFA.
Most relevant for today's discussion are the Canada Business Corporations Act, or CBCA, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or PIPEDA, and the Competition Act.
We are all aware of the fallout from international information leaks that have shown the need for clear and coordinated action to detect and deter money laundering, terrorist financing, tax evasion, and tax avoidance, while continuing to facilitate the ease of doing business in Canada. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, alongside government partners, has been at the forefront of a national strategy to strengthen the transparency of legal persons and legal arrangements, and to improve the availability of beneficial ownership information.
As you may already know, security holders may decide to nominate a third person as nominee to hold and trade the security on their behalf. In the case of a shareholder, a nominee would be listed as a registered shareholder in the share registry of a corporation.
Nominees can be appointed for good business reasons. One need only think of shares of publicly traded companies held through mutual funds or investment brokers. However, legitimate business practices should not foster a climate in which secrecy reigns to the benefit of wrongdoers who use the shadow of nominees to facilitate their criminal activity.
Corporate governance is an area of shared federal-provincial-territorial jurisdiction in Canada, so the Canada Business Corporations Act, CBCA, alone is not enough to address the issue of beneficial ownership. Only about 10% of corporations in Canada are federally incorporated, so an effective legal response to this issue naturally requires strong federal-provincial-territorial co-operation to ensure we have consistent standards across the country.
To this end, following up on budget commitments made in 2017, federal officials have been working with provincial and territorial counterparts toward implementing new standards for corporate and beneficial ownership transparency. Provincial and territorial interest in this process has proven to be strong, and provincial and territorial officials have been engaging with us by providing practical and thoughtful contributions to the development of a Canadian approach.
This partnership hit an important benchmark in December 2017 when the federal, provincial, and territorial ministers of finance agreed on an initial phase to a legislative strategy to enhance the transparency of beneficial ownership of corporations. The objective is simple and targeted: corporations should be required to disclose the identity of beneficial owners who control the corporate decision-making process through voting shares or because they are in a position to materially influence company decisions.
The details of the approach are currently under discussion with the provinces and territories, but with the proposed changes, Canada would bring its corporate standards further in line with those of other OECD countries.
I should also briefly mention the relevance of Bill C-25 currently before the Senate. If adopted, this bill would improve corporate transparency and accountability through the abolition of bearer share options and warrants. These instruments can be used to transfer securities without their beneficiaries having to register the transfer.
PIPEDA is technology-neutral and principles-based legislation that came into force in 2001 and sets the ground rules for how private-sector organizations collect, use, or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities across Canada. It also applies to personal information of employees of federally regulated works, undertakings, or businesses—organizations that are federally regulated such as banks, Faith airlines, and telecommunications companies.
As a general rule, PIPEDA requires organizations to obtain the individual's consent for the use, collection, or disclosure of his or her personal information. Individuals can then choose whether or not to consent to the collection, use, or disclosure of their personal information.
With respect to certain uses and disclosures of personal information, PIPEDA provides for exceptions to the requirements related to informed consent. For example, organizations subject to PIPEDA can disclose personal information to a government institution without the knowledge or consent of an individual if the institution identifies its lawful authority and indicates that it suspects that the information relates to national security, defence, or international affairs, or for the purposes of enforcing a law of Canada.
PIPEDA also makes specific reference to disclosure to government institutions in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. PIPEDA also allows for the disclosure of certain personal information to other private sector organizations without knowledge or consent in cases of suspected fraud or for the purpose of investigating a contravention of a law in Canada.
As a statute of general application, PIPEDA has broad scope and generally overrides other provisions that can be found in other federal statutes, unless expressly provided for in the other statute. As such, PIPEDA applies generally to all sectors of the economy and does not target specific sectors. Under the PIPEDA framework, some provinces have privacy legislation for the private sector that has been deemed substantially similar to PIPEDA, which means that such legislation applies instead of PIPEDA in some cases.
Protection of personal information is also included in several federal and provincial sector-specific statutes. The federal Bank Act, for example, contains provisions regulating the use and disclosure of personal and financial information by federally regulated financial institutions, and most provinces have legislation dealing with consumer credit reporting. As noted earlier, the presence of other legislation that has privacy-related provisions does not necessarily mean that PIPEDA does not apply.
The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is responsible for PIPEDA, while the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the federal courts are responsible for its enforcement. If an individual believes that his or faceher personal information has been mishandled by an organization, he or she can file a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner, who, as an independent agent of Parliament, will investigate the complaint.
The Competition Act is a law designed to protect and promote competition in the Canadian marketplace, through administration and enforcement by the Competition Bureau. Most of its key provisions address classic anti-trust principles, such as cartel activity and merger review, but the act also contains a set of civil and criminal provisions that address deceptive marketing, particularly false or misleading representations, which includes mass marketing fraud.
I would be happy to respond to any questions you may have on any of these statutes and their relations to the PCMLTFA.