Canada’s Major Banks Go Offline In Mysterious (Bank Run?) Hours-Long Outage (#GotBitcoin)
Major Canadian banks went offline for hours blocking access to online and mobile banking as well as e-transfers for customers. Canada’s Major Banks Go Offline In Mysterious (Bank Run?) Hours-Long Outage (#GotBitcoin)
The banks reportedly hit by the outage include Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), BMO (Bank of Montreal), Scotiabank, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).
Online Banking And e-Transfers Down For Many
Canada’s major banks went offline yesterday impeding access to e-Transfers, online and mobile banking services for many.
Reports of users having trouble getting to their online banking peaked between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, although BleepingComputer is continuing to see an influx of these reports into today:
“We are currently experiencing technical issues with our online and mobile banking, as well as our phone systems,” an RBC representative confirmed.
“Our experts are investigating and working to get this fixed as quickly as possible, but we have no ETA to provide at this time. We appreciate your patience.”
RBC customer Andrew Currie reported having “no access to my money at the grocery store” and being stuck in the checkout line for half an hour due to the outage.
BMO customers also saw the bank’s “Global Money Transfer service” being down “all day” with transfers getting auto-rejected for no obvious reason. A BMO representative directed such customers to reach out to the customer service.
CIBC didn’t acknowledge any issues with their online banking.
TD Bank’s mobile banking app reportedly locked users out, with customer service representatives responding that they “haven’t been advised of recent issues with our online service through EasyWeb.”
A TD Bank spokesperson told BleepingComputer that TD Bank did not experience any widespread system outage or issue.
Some had trouble at the ATMs, although it isn’t clear at this time if that is because of the outage. An RBC representative appears to convey that the customer having ATM issues is using an older debit card.
Emergencies Act Imposes Rules On Some Transfers
The cause of the outage is yet to be known but its timing is rather interesting, just days after the Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act amid ongoing ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests.
On Monday, at a Parliament Hill press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland explained the new regulations that payment service providers need to adhere to, under the newly invoked Emergencies Act.
“These illegal blockades must be lifted, and they will be.
In invoking the Emergencies Act, we are announcing the following immediate actions.
First, we are broadening the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules, so that they cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use. These changes cover all forms of transactions including digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies.
The illegal blockades have highlighted the fact that crowdfunding platforms and some of the payment service providers they use are not fully captured under the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act. Our banks and financial institutions are already obligated to report to The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada or FINTRAC.
As of today, all crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use must register with FINTRAC, and they must report large and suspicious transactions to FINTRAC.
This will help mitigate the risk that these platforms receive illicit funds.”
Additionally, the Emergencies Act authorizes banks to freeze accounts of individuals and businesses that they suspect to be affiliated with the illegal blockades, without requiring a court order and without incurring any civil liability.
As the Deputy PM states though, as banks are already obligated to report to FINTRAC, it remains unclear how would new legislation trigger a planned or sudden, unexpected downtime.
Crypto Community Condemns Canada For Freezing Dissidents’ Bitcoin Wallets
Kraken’s CEO admitted that the firm could be forced to freeze some wallets by the police, advising to move crypto out of exchanges.
Global cryptocurrency enthusiasts have expressed concerns over Canadian authorities freezing bank accounts and crypto wallets involved in funding local COVID-19 protests.
On Thursday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Calum MacLeod issued an order freezing all the digital assets and bank accounts associated with “Freedom Convoy,” a series of ongoing protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions.
According to a report by the Toronto Star, the amount of funds frozen so far in bank accounts and digital wallets with Bitcoin (BTC) and other assets is estimated at more than $1 million.
“The names of both individuals and entities as well as crypto wallets have been shared by the RCMP with financial institutions and accounts have been frozen and more accounts will be frozen,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland reported Thursday.
She also argued that the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FINTRAC) “lacked the necessary authorities to oversee the new world of cryptocurrency.”
Major crypto advocates have subsequently reacted to the news, with Kraken CEO Jesse Powell condemning Canadian authorities. “Due process is for plebs. Might makes right in Canada. If someone dissents, you just confiscate their wealth, revoke their licenses, exclude them from the financial system and kill their pets. No need to debate the law, policy or even rights when you have a monopoly on violence,” he wrote on Twitter.
Powell also expressed concerns over crypto holders, admitting that it could be possible that Kraken could potentially be forced to freeze assets by police without judicial consent, stating:
“100% yes it has/will happen and 100% yes, we will be forced to comply. If you’re worried about it, don’t keep your funds with any centralized/regulated custodian. We cannot protect you. Get your coins/cash out and only trade p2p.”
Anthony Pompliano, co-founder and partner of Morgan Creek Digital, noted that the ongoing events in Canada very much resembled a situation in China, which is commonly referred to as an authoritarian capitalist state.
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele also took to Twitter to condemn Canadian authorities for making the country fail as a top-ranking country in the “democracy index.” Bukele argued that the widely reported supposed Ukraine–Russia crisis is a distraction, while the “real war” against freedom is happening in countries such as Canada.
As previously reported, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Monday, which allowed local regulators to freeze Freedom Convoy protesters’ bank accounts and monitor “large and suspicious transactions,” including crypto.
The order specifically extended the scope of Canada’s Anti-Money Laundering and anti-terrorist financing rules to cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment processors they use. “This change covers all forms of transactions, including digital assets such as cryptocurrencies,” FINTRAC said on Tuesday.
Court Orders Freeze of Canadian ‘Freedom Convoy’ Crypto Fundraising
The funds in over 120 crypto addresses were ordered frozen by a special injunction by an Ontario court.
A private class action lawsuit against participants in Canada’s “freedom convoy” has successfully secured an injunction freezing funds raised via crypto donations.
A Mareva injunction was signed on Thursday by Ontario Superior Court of Justice Judge Calum MacLeod and freezes crypto assets in more than 120 different addresses tied to BTC, ADA, ETH, LTC and XMR. A Mareva injunction is a court order used in the U.K. and Canada that freezes a defendant’s assets in order to prevent them from being spent, hidden or moved before a judgment is ordered.
The suit also directs several financial institutions, platforms and exchanges to freeze any transactions related to the identified addresses’ wallets.
The financial institutions include TD Canada Trust and ATB Financial, and the fundraising platforms and websites include GoFundMe and GiveSendGo. Digital assets platforms and exchanges listed were Bull Bitcoin, TallyCoin, BitBuy, Shakepay, Satoshi Portal, Bylls, Binance Smartchain, PancakeSwap and Nunchuk.
“This court orders that the Mareva Respondents and their servants, employees, agents, assigns, officers, directors and anyone else acting on their behalf or in conjunction with any of them, and any and all persons with notice of this Order, are restrained from directly or indirectly, by any means whatsoever: (a) selling, removing, dissipating, alienating, transferring, assigning, encumbering, or similarly dealing with the assets of the Mareva Respondents listed in Schedule ‘A’; (b) instructing, requesting, counselling, demanding, or encouraging any other person to conduct themselves contrary to paragraph 2(a) above; and (c) facilitating, assisting in, aiding, abetting, or participating in any acts the effect of which is to contrary to paragraph 2(a) above, until final disposition of this action or further Order of this Court,” the filing said.
The respondents have a week to respond to the court, explaining what their assets are for, whether they own the assets and to “submit to an examination under oath.”
Pat King, one of the alleged organizers of the Freedom Convoy and one of the named parties in the Mareva order, was apparently arrested by Ottawa police on Friday while livestreaming on Facebook. King is the third organizer to be arrested, after the earlier arrests of Tamara Lich and Chris Barber.
The plaintiffs in the case all say they were personally affected by the convoy.
Henry Assad, the owner of Happy Goat Coffee Company, told Canadian media that he had to temporarily close three locations due to smashed windows and ongoing harassment of his employees.
Ivan Gedz of Union Local 613 told reporters that his business is down 25-50% because the protests are keeping customers away from downtown Ottawa.
Geoffrey Devaney, another plaintiff in the suit, has reportedly been out of work since the protests started. Zexi Li alleges she was threatened by a trucker when she took a photograph of his license plate.
The news comes days after the Canadian government froze 34 crypto addresses in connection with the ongoing trucker protests, which blocked bridges and border crossings into the U.S. in defiance of Canada’s vaccine mandate, under the nation’s Emergencies Act.
On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was also ordering exchanges to freeze certain addresses.
“The names of both individuals and entities as well as crypto wallets have been shared by the RCMP with financial institutions and accounts have been frozen and more accounts will be frozen,” she said.
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