On May 28, 2019, the Federal Court of Canada released its decision in Sharanek v. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, 2019 FC 751. Justice Pentney denied Mr. Sharanek’s judicial review because “he did not make submissions on the merits when offered the opportunity to do so”.

The Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) seized Mr. Sharanek’s currency. Mr. Sharanek was stopped by the CBSA as he boarded a flight to Germany and found that he had not declared currency in excess of $CDN 10,000.  Mr. Sharanek filed an appeal online.  The Minister sent Mr. Sharanek the reasons for the seizure and the letter was returned by Canada Post “moved/unknown” address.  The CBSA Recourse Directorate attempted to reach Mr. Sharanek by telephone and left a voicemail message.  Mr. Sharanek did not return the telephone calls.  As a result, the CBSA Recourse Directorate confirmed the seizure based on the information they received from the CBSA officers involved in the seizure. Mr. Sharanek had not participated in the appeal (other than filing the appeal) and, therefore, the Recourse Directorate did not have information that the currency was from legitimate sources.

The Federal Court determined that the appeal process was procedurally fair and that the Recourse Directorate decision (made for the Minister) was reasonable.

This particular case was decided the way it was because Mr. Sharanek did not do enough. Mr. Sharanek could have received a different result if he had participated fully in the currency appeal.

At the time of the currency appeal letter Mr. Sharanek should have submitted organized documentation demonstrating the legitimacy of the funds.  The letter should have covered all the seized funds and shown both (1) the funds were from a legitimate source, (2) Mr. Sharanek or the source (if a friend of family member) received the money from a legitimate source and (3) everyone paid applicable taxes on the funds (this is not required if received from an employer).  In short, the source of the funds needs to be traced.  If he did not know how to prove that the currency was from legitimate sources, he should hire legal counsel with experience in currency appeals to help.

Mr. Sharanek should have provided the CBSA with an address where he could receive the reasons for the seizure and other correspondence from the CBSA.  If he had hired legal counsel, counsel could have received the reasons for the seizure.

After receiving the reasons for the seizure of the currency, Mr. Sharanek should have responded to any requests for further information or provided comments or clarificatinos to remove any misunderstandings.

If the CBSA Recourse Directorate leaves a voicemail message, it is a good idea to respond.  If a decision maker reaches out to you, it is best to show that person respect.

If you require assistance in filing a currency appeal, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168.  We have posted articles about currency appeals on the LexSage website.