Canada seizing more suspect money from Chinese travelers

Mon Aug 8, 2016 12:07am EDT
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By Ethan Lou

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada has been seizing increasing amounts of undeclared or suspected criminal money from mainland Chinese travelers, border officials said, with the amount confiscated last year more than double that taken in 2013.

Capital flight in various forms has been a growing concern for China, with factors ranging from the depreciation of the yuan to an anti-corruption campaign launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the end of 2012.

Reuters obtained limited seizure figures from the Canada Border Services Agency under the country's access-to-information laws. The agency provided more comprehensive numbers in July.

The data showed seizures from Chinese citizens dipped by about one-quarter from 2012 to 2013, when they were at C$5.5 million ($4.22 million). Seizures jumped to nearly C$11.5 million last year.

At least C$6.5 million has been seized so far in 2016. By year end, that figure could eclipse 2015 levels, as the data consistently showed more seizures in the second half.

According to the agency, suspected criminal proceeds and undeclared money over C$10,000 could be seized. The former is forfeit, while the latter can be returned on payment of a C$250-to-C$5,000 fine.

The agency's numbers did not separate the two and did not indicate the exact origins of the seized money.

Canadian border service spokeswoman Esme Bailey said it is not unusual for the amounts seized to vary from year to year, and the agency does not base enforcement on nationality.   Continued...