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Offshore leaks have CBC readers calling for tougher laws

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Your reaction to our coverage of leaked offshore financial information, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has been huge, with comments numbering in the thousands. 

 The British Virgin Islands is just one jurisdiction popular among those seeking tax havens. (iStock)An unprecedented leak of documents is revealing the closely guarded investment information of more than 100,000 people around the world, including hundreds of Canadians.

The coverage earned praise and some in the CBC Community expressed hope -- however small -- that the leaks would bring about political change. 

  • "Is it possible that the murky world of offshore banking -- the best friend of money launderers and tax-avoiders -- could finally be brought under some control? I really hope this leak by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is the catalyst for meaningful, international regulation," said JoolsBUK.

  • "Great Story, CBC!. We need more stories like this to expose the corruption & greed that some of the rich 1% are basically stealing taxpayers' money overseas. And he is married to a senator who is making big bucks! The punishment for white-collar crime in Canada should be much more severe, like 10-20 years in jail instead of a fine or a slap on the wrist that they usually get! How much jail time do bank robbers get when they are caught?" said brendapiano

There were many commenters who mentioned the "1%" and the Occupy movement in connection with this story. 

  • "The one per cent will never have enough. Just the fact they can and do take advantage of tax havens shows they not only feel entitled but above the law. I hope something will come of this but I doubt it," said NEMYAB.

  • "In my opinion, this is what Occupy was about, wealth manipulation at the expense of the working class and seemingly government facilitated to some degree. But the movement was shouted down, also government facilitated. Now for some government statements of outrage and determination! Followed by the sound of crickets," said Southpark

Some of the reaction to the story concentrated on the lost revenue to the Canadian government these offshore accounts represent. 

  • "This is beyond ridiculous. If you assume a conservative 30 per cent tax rate, this man has stolen $600,000 from Canadian citizens and will likely get off scot-free because of his connections and because tax evasion rarely results in jail time in this country. A guy who steals some clothes from a store to cloth himself would no doubt end up with more severe punishment. So tired of this!" said helmsdeep.

  • "If everyone, including corporations, paid their fair share of taxes we would not have a federal deficit, scientists and civil servants would not be facing layoffs. Also, we would still be able to receive our Old Age Pension at 65 versus 67," said Mark 138.

  • "OK,  Revenue Canada. You heard Flaherty last week. We need to catch a lot of these guys to make the $14+ billion to balance the budget. Go get 'em," said Oaktree

And some wanted to see repercussions for lawyer Tony Merchant, who moved nearly $2 million to offshore havens, and his wife, Liberal Senator Pana Merchant, who was a beneficiary of the trust. 

  • "I think that this liberal Senator should be kicked out of the Senate, Merchant disbarred and a criminal investigation undertaken. Merchant is a good and astute lawyer and he will likely slide out of this too. Let us see if law applies to the rich equally," said BoB_LoBblaw_

There were a few, though, who didn't see what all the fuss was about. Putting money in offshore bank accounts, after all, is not illegal. 

  • "I don't get it. Unless the money was illegally obtained or is subject to tax, people should be able to put their money anywhere they want. That's their business, not mine. If they broke the law, put them jail," said rtfuldodger.

  • "If Mr. Merchant has broken any current law then there should and will be repercussions. But the law itself should be revisited if the sole purpose of tax is to penalize a high-income earner only because of their high income without taking into consideration the relationship and impact to society of their contribution versus their cost. Dollar-for-dollar upper-income Canadians are contributing a lot more "to the Canadian economy" through taxes than lower-income Canadians contribute; lower-income Canadians cost the country money: they are an expense not an asset," said Ken Curtis

Some in the CBC Community wanted to see the names of the 450 Canadians who have secret offshore accounts listed in the leaks. 

  • "How about printing the entire list of criminal Canadians? By that, I mean all of them without protecting any. Siphoning/hoarding money offshore by these so-called Canadians puts the tax burden on the middle class," said ScovaNotian.

  • "If we don't get to see their names and the amounts in their accounts, we can presume that they hold the highest private sector and public sector posts in this country, including the federal government," said Allworld

CBC News general manager and editor-in-chief Jennifer McGuire has addressed this question, saying, "We are mindful of the reality that holding an offshore account is not evidence of wrongdoing and may not be controversial."

  • "CBC made a statement about this. They are investigating a ton of information and will then release it. Until that is done there is no way of knowing who has legitimate reasons for an off-shore account. These days, you can't tar and feather people without cause," said partisannomore

Thanks for your interest in this exclusive CBC News coverage. 

Tags: Business, Community, Community Reaction, law, money, Politics, World

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