Tuesday, May 30, 2017

CRA pursuing criminal charges against Panama Papers tax cheats

The Canada Revenue Agency’s probe into tax cheats named in the Panama Papers has taken a criminal turn.

More than a year after the historic leak of tax haven documents, the federal agency is now auditing 122 Canadians who appear in the database and has launched dozens of criminal investigations, details of which will be made available in a status report to be tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

“When the severity of the crime permits fraud charges under the Criminal Code — which allow for longer sentences — we go there,” said the CRA’s assistant commissioner Ted Gallivan, who described the official update on the CRA’s Panama Papers investigation to the Star.

It’s the strongest signal yet that Canadians named in the Panama Papers could end up behind bars.

The database, which was leaked to the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, led to hundreds of investigative reports by media partners around the world, including the Star and CBC/Radio-Canada. After the initial flurry of news led to the resignation of Iceland’s prime minister, criminal probes have been brewing in dozens of countries.

In Canada, the revelations were greeted with a nearly half-billion-dollar investment in the CRA and a mandate to expand offshore investigations.

But what’s pushed the CRA to go beyond attempting to recoup unpaid tax and pursue jail time is a new-found focus on the enablers: the accountants and lawyers who set up offshore tax evasion schemes and sell them to clients.

“The agency has been directed by the minister to up our game,” Gallivan said.  (more...)


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