Buying a 50/50 ticket is part of going to a Royals game and being part of the atmosphere. And View Royal’s mayor, David Screech, became a winner after years of buying tickets.

“It was exciting obviously, it was $5,000 and I deposited the money in my CIBC bank account,” said Screech.

But a few weeks ago, Screech said him and several members of his family started getting calls from the bank with intrusive questions about their finances triggered by that deposit.

“My wife was actually asked by CIBC Visa where she gets the funds to pay her Visa bill every month. That is just such an absurd, the connotation in that question is insidious my wife has had a job her whole adult life,” said Screech.

Screetch says he was told by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINtrac), the federal agency that monitors financial transactions,that as mayor he is considered a politically exposed person.

According to the FINTRAC website, a politically exposed person (PEP) is a person entrusted with a prominent position that typically comes with the opportunity to influence decisions and the ability to control resources.

As part of federal legislation passed in 2017 to detect and deter money laundering and terrorist activity a PEP along with family members can be flagged for extra financial scrutiny.

“So the bank conducts an assessment they decide whether you are high risk and they have no responsibility to convey to the client that they have done this assessment no responsibility to say what the ramifications are to the client and that is what upsets me the most,” said Screech.

It’s a courtesy Screech said he expected from a bank he’s had a strong relationship with for over 30 years.

“I feel like that has just gone out the window now I feel a complete lack of trust with CIBC because they wont tell me what it is they are doing and how they are doing it,” said Screech.

CIBC released a statment saying “Canadian financial institutions may be required to seek additional information on various transactions involving some individuals who hold prominent positions,” it reads.

And as a small business owner, Screech says he has concerns about how the designation of a politically exposed person could affect future transactions.

“We do get people that buy furniture with large amounts of cash. I mean is that now going to be suspect when I put that in our business account?

He doesn’t know and said after three decades at CIBC, he’s considering switching banks to one that will show more accountability.

“I’ve talked to CIBC and I’ve talked to FINTRAC and FINTRAC suggest to me that CIBC has gone outside the bounds of what they are required to do by law and has suggested I complain to consumer affairs Canada which I have done,” said Screech. 

Luisa Alvarez