The Ontario Provincial Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police ordered all regulated financial firms to cease facilitating any transactions from 34 crypto wallets tied to funding trucker-led protests in the country.
The federal police agencies, working with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), are investigating cryptocurrency donations supporting the weeks-long protest against Canada’s vaccine mandate. The protests are now deemed illegal under the Emergencies Act invoked by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the first time since the law was passed in 1988.
The truck drivers began their protest near the end of January against international travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government, which requires all entrants to the country to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The truckers blocked international bridges and border crossings in several Canadian provinces.
The list consists of 29 Bitcoin addresses, one Ethereum address, one Cardano address, one Ethereum Classic address, one Litecoin address and one Monero address, according to the order. A copy of the order was circulating on Twitter earlier on Wednesday. CoinDesk confirmed its authenticity.
Donors have sent more than 20 BTC to the addresses, worth over $870,000 (CA$1.1 million). The donors turned to cryptocurrencies after the GoFundMe account that had previously received more than $9 million was suspended.
The Emergencies Act was set to take aim at protester finances. Speaking alongside Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said banks can immediately freeze or suspend bank accounts tied to the truckers without a court order and without fear of civil liability.
As part of the Emergencies Act, Canada is broadening the scope the country's anti-money laundering/anti-terrorist financing rules, which will now include crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers such as PayPal and Stripe and will include digital assets such as crypto, used by suspected individuals and companies, RCMP Spokesperson told CoinDesk in an emailed statement.
"All crowd funding platforms and the payment service providers they use now must register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), and must report large and suspicious transactions to FINTRAC," spokesperson said. "As the situation is new and quickly evolving, the RCMP is not in position to offer further information on crowdfunding through cryptocurrency at this time."
FINTRAC did not immediately return a request for comment.
UPDATE (Feb. 17, 2022, 15:15 UTC): Updated with a comment from RCMP.
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