Record keeping requirements for accountants

June 2017 

June 2017

This guidance on record keeping is applicable to accountants and accounting firms that are subject to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and associated Regulations.

As an accountant or accounting firm, you have record keeping obligations when you engage in any of the following activities on behalf of any individual or entity (other than your employer), or give instructions for the following activities on behalf of any individual or entity (other than your employer):

  • receiving or paying funds;
  • purchasing or selling securities, real estate, business assets or entities; and
  • transferring funds or securities by any means.

In order to comply with your record keeping requirements, you are required to keep records in a manner in which they can be provided to FINTRAC within 30 days upon request. These records may also be requested through a judicial order by law enforcement to support an investigation of money laundering or terrorist activity financing. A record (or a copy) may be kept in a machine-readable or electronic form, so long as a paper copy can easily be produced.

Employees who keep records for you are not required to keep them after the end of their employment with you. The same is true for individuals in a contractual relationship with you, after the end of that contractual relationship. This means that you have to obtain and keep the records that were kept for you by any employee or contractor before the end of that individual's employment or contract with you.

There may be situations where you are required to keep records for purposes other than your requirements under the PCMLTFA. For example, a federal or provincial regulator for your sector may require you to keep records in addition to those described in this guidance. If this is the case, you must still meet the requirements described in this guidance. For example, the retention period for your records can be longer than what is described, but it cannot be shorter.

Please note that as an accountant or accounting firm, you have record keeping requirements in addition to those included in this guidance. These additional requirements are detailed in the following Know your client guidance documents:

As an accountant or accounting firm, you must keep the following records:

  1. Suspicious transaction report records
  2. Large cash transaction records
  3. Receipt of funds records
  4. Reasonable measures records

**Note: Exceptions to your record keeping requirements are listed in the last section of this guidance.

**Note: When recording the nature of the principal business or occupation of a client, you must be as descriptive as possible in order to be able to determine whether a transaction or activity is consistent with what would be expected for that client. For example, in the case of a person who is a manager, the occupation recorded should reflect the area of management, such as “hotel reservations manager” or “retail clothing store manager.” The same is true when recording the nature of the principal business of an entity. For example, in the case of an entity in the field of sales, the nature of the principal business should specify the type of sales, such as “pharmaceutical sales” or “retail sales”.

1. Suspicious transaction report records

If you submit a suspicious transaction report to FINTRAC, you must keep a copy of it. This includes STRs for completed and attempted transactions.

Retention: You must keep an STR for at least five years from the date the report was submitted.

2. Large cash transaction records

You must keep a record of every large cash transaction. A large cash transaction occurs when you receive $10,000 or more in cash from a client in a single transaction. A large cash transaction also occurs when there are multiple cash transactions of less than $10,000 each that total $10,000 or more within a 24-hour period, when you know they are conducted by, or on behalf of, the same individual or entity.

When a client conducts a large cash transaction, your record must indicate the receipt of an amount of $10,000 or more in cash, along with the following:

  • the name, date of birth and address of the individual from whom you received the cash, and the nature of their principal business or occupation;
  • the amount and currency of the cash received;
  • the date of the transaction;
  • the purpose and details of the transaction, including:
    • the type of transaction (for example, the cash was to be transferred on the client's behalf, etc.); and
    • whether any other individuals or entities were involved in the transaction;
  • how the cash was received (for example, in person, by mail, by armoured car, or any other way); and
  • if an account was affected by the transaction, include:
    • the account number and type of account;
    • the full name of the account holder; and
    • the currency in which the account's transactions are conducted.

Retention: You must keep large cash transaction records for at least five years from the date the record was created.

3. Receipt of funds records

When you receive funds (in cash or in another form) in the amount of $3,000 or more in the course of a single transaction, you must record:

  • the name, date of birth and address of the individual who provided the funds, as well as the nature of their principal business or occupation;
  • the name, address and nature of their principal business if the funds are received from an entity;
  • the amount and currency of the funds received;
  • the date of the transaction;
  • the purpose and details of the transaction:
    • the type and form of the transaction (for example, the cash was for you to transfer on your client's behalf, etc.); and
    • whether any other individuals or entities were involved in the transaction;
  • if the funds were received in cash, how the cash was received (for example, in person, by mail, by armoured car, or any other way); and
  • if an account was affected by the transaction (i.e. funds withdrawn from or deposited to an account), include:
    • the account number and type of account;
    • the full name of the account holder; and
    • the currency in which the transaction was conducted.

If the receipt of funds record is about a client that is a corporation, you must also keep a copy of the part of the official corporate records that contains any provision relating to the power to bind the corporation regarding the transaction. Official records can include a certificate of incumbency, the articles of incorporation or the bylaws of the corporation that set out the officers duly authorized to sign on the behalf of the corporation, such as the president, treasurer, vice-president, comptroller, etc.

If there were changes subsequent to the articles or bylaws that related to the power to bind the corporation regarding the transaction, and these changes were applicable at the time the transaction was conducted, then the board resolution stating the change would be included in this type of record.

Retention: You must keep a receipt of funds record for transactions of $3,000 or more for at least five years from the date the record was created.

4. Reasonable measures records

The term “reasonable measures” refers to activities you are expected to undertake in order to meet certain obligations. The PCMLTFA and associated Regulations explicitly state when you must take reasonable measures to meet an obligation.

As of June 17, 2017, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations have been changed to require that a record be kept when reasonable measures were taken, but were unsuccessful. A reasonable measure is unsuccessful when you do not obtain a response, such as a yes or no, and you are unable to make a conclusive determination. Refer to section 67.3 of the Regulations for every activity where you are required to keep records when reasonable measures were unsuccessful.

When reasonable measures are unsuccessful, you must record the following information:

  • the measures taken;
  • the date on which each measure was taken; and
  • the reasons why the measures were unsuccessful.

You must outline the reasonable measures that you take in your compliance policies and procedures. This can form part of your unsuccessful reasonable measures record, or you could document, on a case-by-case basis, the measure taken in each record for unsuccessful reasonable measures.

For example, if you ask a client if they are conducting a large cash transaction on behalf of a third party and they refuse to answer your record should indicate that you asked, the date you asked and the fact that the client refused to answer yes or no.

Should you take a measure that is not included in your policies and procedures, you would have to include details of that measure taken in your record of unsuccessful reasonable measures.

Retention: You must keep records of your unsuccessful reasonable measures for at least five years following the date they were created.

Exceptions to record keeping requirements

If you are required to keep a record about information that is readily available in other records that you have kept, you do not have to record the same information again. This means that if you keep the required information and can produce it during a FINTRAC examination you do not need to create a new record to meet your obligations.

You are not required to keep a receipt of funds record if the funds are received from a public body or very large corporation. The exception also applies for a subsidiary for either of those entities, if the financial statements of the subsidiary are consolidated with those of the public body or very large corporation.

You are not required to keep a large cash transaction record if the cash is received from a financial entity or a public body.

You are not required to keep a receipt of funds record if the funds are received from a financial entity or a public body.

You are not required to keep a receipt of funds record if you must keep a large cash transaction record for the same transaction.

You are not required to keep records when you undertake other accounting activities such as audits, review or compilation engagements.

March 2021 

March 2021

This guidance comes into effect on June 1, 2021.

Accountants and accounting firms have record keeping requirements under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and associated Regulations.

This guidance outlines certain record keeping requirements for accountants and accounting firms. You have additional record keeping requirements that are detailed in the following guidance:

This guidance document answers the following questions:

  1. What records must I keep and what must they contain?
  2. What are my responsibilities when maintaining records?
  3. What are the exceptions to my record keeping requirements?

**Note: Throughout this guidance, all references to dollar amounts (such as $10,000) are in Canadian dollars.

1 .What records must I keep and what must they contain?

You must keep the following records:

  1. Report records—a copy of every report sent to FINTRAC
    • Suspicious transaction report record
    • Terrorist property report record
    • Large cash transaction report record
    • Large virtual currency (VC) transaction report record
  2. Large cash transaction records
  3. Large VC transaction records
  4. Receipt of funds records

**Note: Throughout this guidance, when you are required to keep records about your clients, you should be as descriptive as possible. Being descriptive when recording the nature of the principal business or occupation of a client, will help determine whether a transaction or activity is consistent with what would be expected for that client. For example, in the case of a person who is a manager, the occupation recorded should reflect the area of management, such as "hotel reservations manager" or "retail clothing store manager". In the case of an entity in the field of sales, the nature of the principal business recorded should specify the type of sales, such as "pharmaceutical sales" or "retail sales".

a. Reports—a copy of every report sent to FINTRAC

You must keep a copy of every report that you submit to FINTRAC as a record.

Suspicious transaction report record

When you submit a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) to FINTRAC, you must keep a copy of it.Footnote 1

Retention: At least five years after the day the STR was submitted.Footnote 2

Terrorist property report record

When you submit a Terrorist Property Report (TPR) to FINTRAC, you must keep a copy of it.Footnote 3

Retention: At least five years after the day the TPR was submitted.Footnote 4

Large cash transaction report record

When you submit a Large Cash Transaction Report (LCTR) to FINTRAC, you must keep a copy of it.Footnote 5

Retention: At least five years from the date the LCTR was created.Footnote 6

Large virtual currency (VC) report record

When you submit a Large VC Transaction Report (LVCTR) to FINTRAC, you must keep a copy of it.Footnote 7

Retention: At least five years from the date the LVCTR was created.Footnote 8

b. Large cash transaction records

You must keep a large cash transaction record when you receive an amount of $10,000 or more in cash.Footnote 9

If you authorize another person or entity to receive funds on your behalf and that other person or entity receives an amount of $10,000 or more in cash in accordance with the authorization, you are deemed to have received the amount when it is received by the other person or entity, and you must keep a large cash transaction record.Footnote 10

**Note: This obligation is subject to the 24-hour rule. Footnote 11

A large cash transaction record must include:Footnote 12

  • the date on which you received the cash;
  • for any person involved in the transaction (including the person from whom you received the cash), their name, address, date of birth, and occupation, or in the case of a sole proprietor, the nature of their principal business;
  • for any entity involved in the transaction (including the entity from which you received the cash), their name, address and nature of their principal business;
  • the type and amount of each fiat currency involved in the receipt;
  • the purpose of the transaction (for example, the cash was to be transferred on the client's behalf etc.);
  • the method by which you received the cash (for example, in person, by mail, etc.);
  • the exchange rates used and their source (if applicable);
  • if an account was affected by the transaction, include:
    • the account number and type of account; and
    • the account holder's name; 
  • every reference number connected to the transaction that is meant to be equivalent to an account number;
  • the following details of the remittance (i.e. the disposition) of, or in exchange for, the cash received:
    • the method of remittance (for example, wire transfer, money order, etc.);
    • if the remittance is in funds, the type and amount of each type of funds involved;
    • if the remittance is not in funds, the type of remittance and value if different from the amount received in cash; and
    • the name of every person or entity involved in the remittance, their account number or policy number or, if there is no account or policy number, their identifying number.

Retention: You must keep a large cash transaction record for at least five years from the date the record was created.Footnote 13

c. Large virtual currency transaction records

You must keep a large virtual currency (VC) transaction record when you receive an amount in VC equivalent to $10,000 or more.Footnote 14

If you authorize another person or entity to receive VC on your behalf and that other person or entity receives an amount of VC equivalent to $10,000 or more in accordance with the authorization, you are deemed to have received the amount when it is received by the other person or entity, and you must keep a large VC transaction record.Footnote 15

**Note: This obligation is subject to the 24-hour rule.Footnote 16

A large VC transaction record must include:Footnote 17

  • the date on which you received the VC;
  • for any person involved in the transaction (including the person from whom you received the VC), their name, address, date of birth, and their occupation, or in the case of a sole proprietor, the nature of their principal business;
  • for any entity involved in the transaction (including the entity from which you received the VC), their name, address and the nature of their principal business;
  • the type and amount of each VC involved in the receipt;
  • the exchange rates used and their source;
  • If an account was affected by the transaction (for example, any account that provides the funds), include:
    • the account number and type of account; and
    • the account holder's name;
  • every reference number connected to the transaction that is meant to be similar to an account number; and
  • every transaction identifier (this may include a transaction hash or a similar identifier, if applicable), and every sending and receiving address.

Retention: You must keep a large VC transaction record for at least five years from the date the record was created.Footnote 18

d. Receipt of funds records

When you receive an amount of $3,000 or more in funds, you must keep a receipt of funds record that includes:Footnote 19

  • the date on which you received the funds;
  • if the amount is received from a person, their name, address, date of birth and their occupation, or in the case of a sole proprietor, the nature of their principal business;
  • if the amount is received from an entity, its name, address and the nature of its principal business;
  • the amount of funds and amount of any part of the funds that is received in cash;
  • the method by which the amount is received (for example, in person, by mail, etc.);
  • the type and amount of each fiat currency involved in the receipt;
  • the exchange rates used and their source (if applicable);
  • if an account was affected by the transaction (i.e. funds withdrawn from or deposited to an account), include:
    • the account number and type of account; and
    • the full name of the account holder;
  • if other persons are involved in the transaction, their name, address, date of birth, and the nature of their principal business (in the case of a sole proprietor) or occupation;
  • if other entities are involved in the transaction, their name, address and the nature of their principal business;
  • every reference number connected to the transaction that is meant to be equivalent to an account number; and
  • the purpose of the transaction (for example, the funds were for you to transfer on your client's behalf, etc.).

If the receipt of funds record is in respect of an entity that is a corporation, you must also keep a copy of the part of the official corporate records that contains any provision relating to the power to bind the corporation regarding the transaction.Footnote 20 This could be found in a certificate of incumbency, the articles of incorporation or the bylaws of the corporation that set out the officers duly authorized to sign on the behalf of the corporation, such as the president, treasurer, vice-president, comptroller, etc.

Retention: You must keep a receipt of funds record for transactions of $3,000 or more for at least five years from the date the record was created.Footnote 21

2. What are my responsibilities when maintaining records?

In order to comply with your record keeping requirements, you must keep records in such a manner that they can be provided to FINTRAC within 30 days of a request.Footnote 22 The records may also be requested through a judicial order by law enforcement to support an investigation of money laundering or terrorist activity financing. A record (or a copy) may be kept in a machine-readable or electronic form, so long as a paper copy can easily be produced.Footnote 23

Employees who keep records for you are not required to keep them after their employment ends. The same is true for persons in a contractual relationship with you, when the contractual relationship ends.Footnote 24 You have to obtain and keep the records that were kept for you by any employee or contractor before the end of the person's employment or contract.

There may be situations where you are required to keep records for purposes other than your requirements under the PCMLTFA. For example, a federal or provincial regulator for your sector may require you to keep records in addition to those described in this guidance. If this is the case, you must still meet the requirements described in this guidance. For example, the retention period for your records can be longer than what is described in the PCMLTFA, but it cannot be shorter.

3. What are the exceptions to my record keeping requirements?

If you are required to keep a record with information that is readily available in other records, you do not have to record the information again.Footnote 25

For example, when you keep a copy of a large cash transaction report (LCTR) you may choose to use this as your large cash transaction record for the same transaction, so long as all of the information that would otherwise be kept in the large cash transaction record is captured within the report. Any requirement related to keeping the large cash transaction record would still apply, such as verifying identity.

Financial entities, public bodies, and very large corporations or trusts

You are not required to keep a large cash transaction record, a large VC transaction record or a receipt of funds record if the cash, VC or funds is received from a client that is a financial entity (FE) or a public body, or from a person who is acting on behalf of a client that is an FE or public body.Footnote 26

You are not required to keep a receipt of funds record if the funds are received from a public body, a very large corporation or trust, or a subsidiary of those entities, if the financial statements of the subsidiary are consolidated with those of the public body, or very large corporation or trust.

Virtual currency

When you receive VC as compensation for the validation of a transaction that is recorded in a distributed ledger or you receive a nominal amount of VC for the sole purpose of validating another transaction or a transfer of information, you do not need to keep a large VC transaction record.Footnote 27

Date Modified: