TD Bank to Hand Convoy Funds to Court as Organizers Turn to Cryptocurrency

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A Canadian financial institution has dealt another blow to the convoy group blockading Ottawa’s attempts to raise the millions of dollars it solicited in online donations.

TD Bank told CTV News on Friday it would seek to return to an Ontario court the money that had not been repaid by GoFundMe, totaling about $1 million, as well as some $400,000 the group had accepted through direct donations.

“TD has asked the court to accept the funds, which were raised through crowdfunding and deposited into personal accounts at TD, so that they can be managed and distributed in accordance with the donors’ intentions, and/or for be returned to donors who have requested refunds but whose entitlement to a refund cannot be determined by TD,” spokeswoman Carla Hindman said.

Convoy lawyer Keith Wilson said the band plan to fight to get back all the money they’ve raised – and could be seen in a video promoting the band’s next play: a fundraiser. cryptocurrency fund that has raised nearly US$1 million.

“We will take expedited legal action to have restrictions on donated funds lifted as soon as possible,” Wilson said in an email to CTV News.

It’s another obstacle to collecting donations for the convoy, which has been occupying Ottawa for about two weeks and blocking other border crossings to protest vaccination mandates. The ongoing protest prompted Ontario Premier Doug Ford to declare a provincial state of emergency on Friday.

Of the more than $10 million raised by crowdfunding platform GoFundMe, only $1 million was deposited, before GoFundMe chose to return the rest of the funds.

A second round of fundraisers, set up on GiveSendGo, hit nearly $9 million on Friday.

But on Thursday night, the Ontario Superior Court froze the funds from those accounts, after a request from the province’s attorney general alleging the funds would be used for a criminal act: mischief on the streets of Ottawa. GiveSendGo said the order does not apply there and continues to fundraise.

In a video posted to Facebook by supporters, convoy organizers discuss fundraising strategy online, turning to a crowdfunding site that raised $913,000 Friday afternoon, in satoshis, which represent each a 100 millionth fraction of bitcoin.

“The main philosophy of what Bitcoin is is freedom,” one said. “For anyone who has had their voice stolen by ‘GoFraudMe’, ‘GoFundMe’, you should be reassured that there are now alternatives.”

According to documents filed in an Ontario court, Ottawa police were also watching the video. In their affidavit, an officer referenced the convoy’s cryptocurrency fundraising strategy, but authorities did not ask to freeze any of them.

Digital currency is decentralized, experts say, so it is difficult to regulate. This crowdfunding approach could become the norm, said Erica Pimentel of Queens University.

“I think Bitcoin will become the currency of social movements. And they’re going to play international mole trying to block those deals,” Pimentel said.

James Cohen of Transparency International Canada said the widely publicized use of cryptocurrency to fund what authorities have deemed an illegal act could be the catalyst for greater transparency in how groups fundraise. at the International scale.

“It’s not new. The warning signs appeared long before this event,” he said. “This kind of amplifies things, because all Canadians are witnessing the effects of anonymous money in real time, so there’s more momentum to get things done.”

Cohen said any international currency or cryptocurrency will be subject to Canadian rules as soon as someone tries to convert it into legal tender to buy things protesters spent money on, including gasoline.

“They can say Canada has no jurisdiction, but as soon as it hits a Canadian financial institution, it has jurisdiction,” he said.

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