Panama Papers: Bank CEO defends Canada’s anti-money laundering practices

ORONTO – The Bank of Montreal’s CEO is defending the Canadian banking sector’s anti-money laundering practices following reports linking a major Canadian financial institution to a Panamanian law firm at the centre of a data leak on the use of offshore tax havens.

Bill Downe says Canadian banks have “dramatically” beefed up their anti-money laundering controls over the last seven to 10 years at the request of various governments around the world.

“I would say that the current Bank Secrecy Act anti-money laundering provisions, particularly involving U.S. dollar accounts, are extremely robust,” Downe said in an interview following the bank’s annual shareholder meeting in Toronto on Tuesday.

He added that if any violations do emerge from documents leaked from the law firm Mossack Fonseca, he suspects they will be in relation to business that originated a long time ago — before the big push by the banks to bolster their anti-money laundering practices.

Media reports claimed the Royal Bank of Canada and its subsidiaries used the Panamanian law firm to set up more than 370 shell companies.

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