Canadian border officers seized $ 166 million in undeclared cash from travelers

British Columbia’s money laundering investigation may be drawing to a close, but there is still a lot of data to go. A dataset comes from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and money seized from travelers. Between April 2015 and March 2020, the agency seized well over $ 100 million in undeclared cash holdings from travelers. This includes millions of people suspected of being the proceeds of crime, carried by hundreds of travelers.

Canada seized over $ 166 million in undeclared cash

Canadian authorities have seized a mountain of money from travelers who have not declared (or totally hidden) at least $ 10,000. Over a 5-year period, the CBSA seized $ 166.13 million out of a total of 9,769 people. The amount peaked during the 12-month period ending March 31, 2016 (2015/2016). Coincidentally, that was the year before British Columbia announced its speculation tax for non-residents. Foreclosures increased steadily after the sharp drop, until they dropped sharply in 2019/2020 for obvious reasons.

Seizures of important undeclared cash by Canadian border officers

The amount of large undeclared cash holdings seized by Canadian border officers.

Source: CBSA; Cullen Commission; Better accommodation.

Most people get their money back, even if it was hidden

The CBSA uses a tiered system to assess a person caught smuggling money. The first three are subject to fines and you get your money back after paying the fine. Just the cost of doing business, I guess. The fourth level is the worst and means that the officer has reason to believe that it is the proceeds of crime. Here’s what each level typically means:

Level 1: This is the most minor offense when there is no effort to conceal the money. The person caught must also recognize what they have done. In general, you can say that these people just forgot that they had over $ 10,000 in cash on them – a fantastic feeling, I was told.

Level 2: This is when the money has been hidden but not in a fake compartment. It’s also an upgrade if you get caught with a level 1, but it’s not your first time.

Level 3: This is when the money is hidden in a fake compartment and it is hard to argue that someone simply forgot the money.

Level 4: This is when the CBSA officer determines that the money was the proceeds of crime and the traveler will not get the money back. It can be contested since the agent’s opinion is not necessarily a fact. If the money hidden in a false bottom article is not considered a suspicion of money smuggling, one would assume that it must be brazen enough to make it happen.

Canada collected nearly $ 5 million in fines for undeclared money

Canadian authorities collected millions in fines for seizures of level 1 to 3 undeclared species during this period. The fees are $ 4.48 million over a 5-year period. It’s a really good deal to get caught trying to slip $ 154.56 million from past authorizations.

Number of large undeclared cash holdings seized by Canadian border officers

The number of times Canadian border officers seized large undeclared cash holdings found on travelers.

Source: CBSA; Cullen Commission; Better accommodation.

The remaining money was confiscated because it was suspected of being the proceeds of a crime. That’s $ 11.57 million in cash over the 5-year period and 478 people. No need to look for the calculator – that works out to an average of $ 24,200 per suspected criminal. Not astronomical but in $ 20 bills it would look like 10 wads of cash as you would see in a movie case and weigh the equivalent of enough Tang to mix 18 liters.

Toronto and Vancouver are where most of the money was seized

The Greater Toronto Area is the number one destination for that money. CBSA data shows that $ 40.87 million, or about 25% of the money seized over the five years, was in the GTA. Of this money, $ 5.16 million was subject to a Level 4 foreclosure. Keeping the visuals, the amount seized would have been sufficient for the down payment on 975 Toronto condos at the current benchmark price. It’s also just the GTA. Southern Ontario and its border crossings are a whole different category.

Toronto and Vancouver large undeclared cash holdings seized by Canadian border officers

Dollar amounts seized by Canadian border authorities in the Greater Toronto and Pacific (BC) region. Most of the foreclosures in British Columbia are in the Greater Vancouver area.

Source: CBSA; Cullen Commission; Better accommodation.

The CBSA does not have a Metro Vancouver area, but a comprehensive “Pacific” region, which includes border crossings and ports in British Columbia. This region represents $ 50.76 million in funds over 5 years, or nearly 30.55% of the total. Of this money, $ 7.68 million was the subject of a Level 4 seizure, suspected of being the proceeds of criminal activity. Even though this is all of British Columbia, the majority of the seizures took place at the Metro Vancouver airport – so it might as well be a category within Metro Vancouver.

It should be mentioned that the population of British Columbia is approximately 15% smaller than the population of the Greater Toronto Area. Seeing a higher share of cash seizures means the province is over-represented, especially when it comes to Level 4 seizures. It is probably safe to conclude that the province may have been subject to a higher level of cash. ‘criminal activities.

The sum of money in total may seem small or astronomical, depending on your understanding of the data. In the grand scheme of things, the dollar value is a relatively small amount, in contrast, to say – the issuance of mortgages. Although it should be considered that the amount seized is usually only a fraction of the inflow discovered.

Combine that with the leverage and the fact that it’s just one of the many sources and the problem becomes much bigger. A hundred million here, a few billion there, and finally you’re talking serious money. Especially considering that only a small amount needs to be invested in real estate to inflate prices due to the behavioral impact of the compensation system.

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