Pierre Karl Péladeau calls report linking Quebecor, tax havens 'big dud'

PQ leader Pierre Karl Péladeau said that he never created subsidiaries in tax havens, however, he admitted Monday that Quebecor had acquired companies that had existing subsidiaries in tax havens.

Radio-Canada reports 30 companies and subsidiaries with ties to Quebecor found in Barbados, Cayman Islands

Pierre Karl Péladeau has repeatedly said that under his supervision Quebecor never had subsidiaries in tax havens. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Parti Québécois leader Pierre Karl Péladeau is calling a report suggesting his company may have been involved in a structure to pay reduced taxes in Quebec a "big dud."

Enquête, Radio-Canada's investigative program, found about 30 companies and branches that seem to have a link with Quebecor which were active in a dozen countries known to be tax havens. 

Many of the subsidiaries were active while Péladeau was president of the company.

Péladeau has repeatedly said in the past that under his supervision, Quebecor never had subsidiaries in tax havens.

Last Friday, Péladeau responded on his Facebook page to allegations reported in La Presse on the existence of about ten companies and subsidiaries created by Quebecor in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Iceland.

He wrote there was no "exotic financial structure" used by Quebecor while he was president.

Radio-Canada reported Sunday that the alleged network of companies, and the number of countries where those companies are operating, is even more extensive than cited in last week's report.

The companies linked to or seeming to be linked to Quebecor are based in Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands, Ireland, Panama and Singapore.

The companies have names such as "TCG Videotron Cayman Ltd" and "Quebecor World Foreign Sales Corp".

Several of the companies were created before Péladeau became president. Some of the subsidiaries are closed today, while others still appear to be active.

There is no evidence of tax fraud.

Péladeau refused Radio-Canada's interview requests.

The PQ leader wrote on his Facebook page Monday morning that the latest report from Radio-Canada was "a big dud."

Péladeau addresses allegations

Later Monday morning, in an interview with Montreal radio station 98.5 FM, Péladeau said that he never created subsidiaries in tax havens, however, he admitted that Quebecor had acquired companies that had existing subsidiaries in tax havens.

Péladeau was asked if Quebecor then used those subsidiaries in tax havens to avoid paying taxes in Quebec.

"I can't answer that because it wasn't me that worked on those structures. I have no personal knowledge of it, but I gave instructions not to use those structures" Péladeau replied.

Péladeau was then asked if he had documents or memos showing that he had given those instructions.

"I was CEO for 15 years. I don't have those with me this morning. What do you want to do, put me on trial?" Péladeau asked the host.

Péladeau also admitted to being aware of subsidiaries in tax havens used by Quebecor World, a separate company from Quebecor on which he served as a board member.  He admitted he didn't question the existence of those subsidiaries while sitting on the board.

"You have to understand how it works. A board member doesn't have the power or the knowledge to change that," Péladeau said.

Finally, Péladeau was asked if he could "100 per cent guarantee" that Quebecor never used tax havens to avoid paying taxes in Quebec.

"Effectively I can't make that guarantee. I can't say that," Péladeau replied.

He went on to say a PQ government would put in place measures to fight tax avoidance.

As to whether he would sue Radio-Canada for its report, he said, "We'll see."

He continues to refuse Radio-Canada's requests for an interview.

Quebecor addressed the story on its Twitter feed, referring specifically to two subsidiaries registered in the Cayman Islands and one registered in Barbados.

The company says those subsidiaries were never created, held nor used by Quebecor.