Record keeping requirements for accountants


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

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

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

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: