Corrupt Canadian Banking Practices Flourish

Canada’s biggest banks, in a bid to facilitate tax avoidance, have always preferred to conduct a lot of their operations in a Caribbean financial haven. As a matter of fact, it is said that Canadian institutions dominate the region’s unethical banking sector.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)was named 1,347 times in a cache of leaked files released by the Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2013, containing secret tax havens.

FirstCaribbeanwhich is a subsidiary of CIBC was implicated in the 2015 FIFA corruption scandal. To circumvent an electronic trail of a $250,000 payment to former FIFA official Chuck Blazer, a representative of FirstCaribbeanwas said to have flown to New York to collect a cheque and deposit it in a Bahamas account.

According to a report on Canadian Dimension, CIBC has always been well-known among the wealthy, well-placed African population. Economist Thierry Godefroy and legal expert Pierre Lascoumes, quoted on Canadian Dimension, once wrote that the “Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is known as the bank of many African dignitaries” while French Africa specialist François-Xavier Verschave called it “the nefarious CIBC, favourite bank of African oil dictators.”

This type of unethical practices is widespread among Canada's top banks, and not just CIBC. Dissident Voice reports that in 2013 CIBC, RBC and Scotiabank accounted for more than 60 percent of regional banking assets. According to the article, in 2008 The Economist reported that Canadian banks controlled “the English-speaking Caribbean’s three largest banks, with $42 billion in assets, four times those commanded by its forty-odd remaining locally owned banks.”

Canada has not done a lot to stop unethical offshore practices as the country has enabled the offshore financial infrastructure is by signing tax treaties and Tax Information Exchange Agreements with Caribbean tax havens.

Asides unethical offshore practices, a lot of corruption have also been reported among Canadian banks operating in Canada.

In 2018, a good number of bank employees from all of Canada’s major banks shared their stories with CBC News, about how the bank pushes them towards unethical actions with pressure to reach targets.

An RBC teller said even when customers don't need anything, "we need to upgrade their Visa card, increase their Visa limits or get them to open up a credit line."

"It's not what's important to our clients anymore," she said. "The bank wants more and more money. And it's leading everyone into debt."

Another RBC certified financial planner in Ontario said she's been threatened with pay cuts and losing her job if she failed to bring in enough customers.

"Managers belittle you," she said. "We get weekly emails that highlight in red the people who are not hitting those sales targets. It's bullying."

A CIBC teller said, "I am expected to aggressively sell products, especially Visa. Hit that target, who cares if it's hurting customers."

In some cases, the employees admitted that they were ordered not to tell clients when the stock market had gone down, and added higher interest rates to mortgages – without telling clients they could negotiate on those rates, says a report on Spencer Fernando.


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