FINTRAC sees rising threat from far-right terrorists

By James Langton | June 15, 2021 | Last updated on June 15, 2021
2 min read
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The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) is keeping tabs on transactions involving ideologically motivated violent extremist (IMVE) groups.

FINTRAC, which collects data on financial transactions to help combat money laundering and terrorism financing, issued a special bulletin detailing its observations regarding IMVE activity, including race- and gender-driven violent activity.

“The terrorism threats posed by IMVE threat actors are on the rise around the world,” FINTRAC said.

In Canada, this has included the Quebec City mosque attack in 2017, the Toronto van attack in 2018 and the Toronto spa attack in 2020.

Earlier this year, the federal government added four IMVE organizations to its list of terror groups, including four far-right groups: Atomwaffen Division, the Base, the Proud Boys and the Russian Imperial Movement.

FINTRAC said that firms that are required to report suspicious activity, including banks and investment dealers, should be aware of these groups and the financing behaviour of those involved with them.

So far, most of the IMVE-related financial activity observed by FINTRAC has been concentrated in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. “Canadians were most often senders, not recipients, of funds,” the agency said.

These kinds of transactions typically involved using payment processors and money services businesses to make international funds transfers to IMVE groups, FINTRAC noted.

“While these transactions tended to be small, recurring transfers to multiple nodes of the same international network in different countries, they totalled significant amounts,” the agency said.

Often, these transactions were used to pay membership fees, buy merchandise and gear, and to make general donations, FINTRAC said.

The bulletin also detailed FINTRAC’s observations regarding so-called “lone actors” who attempt to carry out attacks by themselves.

“[L]one actors may be difficult to identify through transactions patterns or financial activity alone,” FINTRAC said, because they primarily use personal funds, such as employment income or money from family members, to finance their attacks.

Increasingly, IMVE activity has involved virtual currencies, the agency reported.

As online crowdfunding platforms and social media sites have cracked down on IMVE fundraising, these groups have sought alternatives, including using virtual currency donations to fund propaganda and recruitment efforts, FINTRAC said.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.