Blue Line

Police officers awarded Canadian Banks’ Law Enforcement Award for fighting financial crimes

August 23, 2023  By Canadian Bankers Association

Aug. 21, 2023, Ottawa, Ont. – Dedicated police officers and support staff with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Ontario Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were honoured for their exceptional contributions to the investigation of crimes against Canadians, banks and their employees.

The Canadian Bankers Association presented two awards as part of the Canadian Banks’ Law Enforcement Award (CBLEA). An individual award was presented to Sergeant Benjamin Robinson of the RCMP for facilitating enhanced information sharing between multiple parties involved in combating money laundering in Canada. A group award was presented to thirteen officers and support staff at the SFO and OPP for their outstanding contributions in dismantling an international Ponzi scheme, as well as two RCMP officers who aided in this investigation. The awards were presented at the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Summit in Ottawa.

“These awards are our way of recognizing and celebrating the investigative diligence of police officers and their collaboration with banks to protect Canadians against financial crimes,” said Anthony Ostler, President & Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Bankers Association. “Banks work as a team with law enforcement, adopt leading techniques and remain ever vigilant to safeguard bank customers. We honour CBLEA recipients for their bravery, dedication and professionalism.”

Sergeant Benjamin Robinson, Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit – British Columbia, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Individual Award)


In 2018, Sgt. Robinson of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police initiated an investigation into money laundering in Canadian casinos. He proposed a novel public-private partnership model to facilitate information sharing among involved parties, leading to the launch of Project ATHENA. The project aimed to identify and combat money laundering schemes through increased security measures, legislative changes, and heightened enforcement.

Sgt. Robinson’s initiative resulted in Canada’s first PPP model in the fight against money laundering, and eventually gave rise to the permanent Counter Illicit Finance Alliance of BC (CIFA-BC) in 2020. Thanks to his efforts, collaboration among Crown Corporations, government, regulators, banks and law enforcement has improved significantly.

Photo credit: Canadian Bankers Association

Ontario Serious Fraud Office, Ontario Provincial Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Group Award)

Detective Inspector Jennifer Spurrell

Detective Staff Sergeant Kyle Kanstein

Acting Detective Sergeant Jordan Wittig

Acting Detective Sergeant Daniel Hyde

Sergeant Nicole Hanks

Sergeant Melissa Purenne

Sergeant Juan Rivera

Constable Ian Wright

Victim Liaison Jenna Coates

Victim Liaison Stephanie Miller

Crime Analyst Ainsley Stinson

Data Entry Analyst Bailey Walters

Deputy Director of Litigation Thaddeus Ofiara

Crown Counsel Patrick Travers

Photo credit: Canadian Bankers Association

Between 2012 and 2017, an international Ponzi scheme operating from Barrie, Ontario, involving the sale of counterfeit debit terminals that led to losses of approximately $48 million. When the individual behind the operation fled to the Dominican Republic, it prompted the Ontario SFO to undertake its first international investigation in 2018.

The SFO navigated through significant hurdles, including the logistical complexity of cross-border investigation, political unrest in the Dominican Republic and the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the team remained undeterred, employing innovative strategies to conduct witness interviews across borders amid lockdown conditions during the pandemic. They also forged a strong alliance with the RCMP, Interpol and the Dominican Republic National Police, which proved instrumental in the investigation. Their coordinated efforts led to the identification and apprehension of the accused in a remote area of the Dominican Republic in 2020. The successful conclusion of the investigation saw the individual convicted of fraud and money laundering in 2022, sentenced to seven years in prison, and ordered to repay nearly $27 million. The investigation further facilitated the seizure of about $6.2 million in assets.

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