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The latest winner of the CAJ Code of Silence: FinTRAC

EDMONTON, May 28, 2016 — The winner of the Canadian Association of Journalists’ most dubious award in 2016 is the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, the country’s little known “financial intelligence unit” that’s meant to, among other things, “facilitate the detection, prevention and deterrence of money laundering.”

Earlier this year, FinTRAC reportedly fined an undisclosed bank a total of $1.1 million for “failing to report a suspicious transaction and various money transfers”—but the agency, choosing to “exercise its discretion,” wouldn’t name the bank.

That secrecy made FinTRAC a natural choice for the CAJ’s annual Code of Silence Award, which is handed out (sic) to the government or publicly funded agency that works the hardest to hide public information.

“The penalty was designed to send a message of deterrence,” said the Toronto Star‘s Robert Cribb, a former CAJ president who wrote the agency’s nomination. Cribb added that declining to name the bank “dramatically softens that deterrence by shrouding the mystery bank’s conduct in secrecy.

“FinTRAC routinely identifies individuals and companies it takes action against. In fact, many are listed on the agency’s website,” Cribb continued. “A public watchdog agency hiding the identity of a bank found to have breached the public interest has earned the right to claim the Code of Silence Award.”

The CAJ agrees. This is the 16th year the organization has presented a Code of Silence.

The CAJ is Canada’s largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing over 600 members across the country. The CAJ’s primary roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.

For further information:

Nick Taylor-Vaisey, CAJ president – 647-968-2393 cell, nick@caj.ca

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