The Bank Act & the PI

The Bank Act

The Bank Act (1991, c. 46) is an Act of the Government of Canada respecting banks and banking.  The Canadian banking industry includes 20 domestic banks, 24 foreign bank subsidiaries and 22 foreign bank branches operating in Canada.

Canadian Banks & Lending

Canadian Banks have the right to lend money to wholesalers, retailers, shippers and dealers in “products of agriculture, products of aquaculture, products of the forest, products of the quarry and mine, products of the sea, lakes, and rivers, of goods, wares and merchandise, manufactured or otherwise” on the security of such goods or products, and to lend money to manufacturers on their goods and inventories.

The Private Investigator (PI)

When doing a background investigation of a person, the PI will be looking for previously unknown assets, banking and financial arrangements, or corporate affiliations.  When investigating a company, the PI will be looking for previously unknown assets, banking, and financial arrangements.  In both cases, the equity held by the subject in the assets will be of interest.  Searching the Bank Act Security Registry may reveal all of the above.

Bank Act Security Registry

Under S. 427 of the Bank Act, the borrower must sign a document that provides the bank with the first preferential lien on the goods or equipment.  The Bank then registers a ‘Notice of Intention‘ to take the goods as security, to perfect its security interest.

The Bank of Canada offers a Security Registry service which may be searched for registrations.  The search will reveal whether the Bank of Canada has taken security on property that may interest you.  If the Bank does have a claim on the property, then it means that it has loaned the customer money and that it has the right to take possession of and sell the property if the loan is not paid.  This is important for you to know for two reasons.  First, it shows that the person or business is indebted to a Canadian chartered bank and may have equity in the property listed in the security agreement.  Second, it may uncover previously unknown assets, banking and financial arrangements, or corporate affiliations. You will need to provide the name of the person or business being searched.

Years ago, we only did this when we suspected the subject person or company might have an interest in an agricultural business.  Today however, we find more non-agricultural businesses in the Bank of Canada registry. We have online access to the Bank of Canada registry to search for Bank Act Security items. The search results often indicate that a business assigned its inventory to a bank as security under the Bank Act.

A manual search for Notices of Intention filed under Section 427 of the Bank Act are conducted at the agency of the Bank of Canada in the province or territory where the debtor’s place of business is located. For Bank Act searches,  “agency” means, in a province, the office of the Bank of Canada or its authorized representative but does not include its Ottawa office, and in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut means the office of the clerk of the court of each of those territories respectively [see S. 427(5)].