Canada and allies consider crackdown on prepaid cards in illicit cash fight

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Canada and its closest allies are eyeing a crackdown on prepaid currency cards and looking at even greater intelligence sharing as a means of combating transnational organized crime.

A newly disclosed memo shows RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson floated the ideas in Ottawa during a June meeting of justice ministers from Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

The memo says increasingly popular prepaid cards offered by retailers are a convenient form of currency for consumers, but organized criminals have taken advantage of them to smuggle and launder proceeds of crime.

It says police in the five countries have "limited powers" to deal with the exploitation and abuse of prepaid cards.

The cards cannot be seized by law enforcement or border officials in member countries, as they are not covered under anti-money laundering legislation.

Paulson attended as the 2012 chairman of the little-known Strategic Alliance Group, which comprises federal law enforcement officials from the five countries to jointly tackle organized crime.