Canada

CRA raids 15 locations in Ontario and Quebec in alleged $8.3M tax-evasion case

Canada Revenue Agency investigators and RCMP officers raided 15 locations across Ontario and Quebec today as part of a criminal probe into international tax evasion, the CRA said in a statement.

Agency says information from Fintrac has played a 'significant' role in investigation

The CRA says its raids on Wednesday morning relate to a case of 'international tax evasion.' (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Canada Revenue Agency investigators and RCMP officers raided 15 locations across Ontario and Quebec today as part of a criminal probe into international tax evasion, the CRA said in a statement.

About 128 revenue agents, assisted by Mounties, searched locations in Windsor, London, the Toronto area, Ottawa, Gatineau, Laval and Montreal.

The ongoing investigation is into roughly $8.3 million in tax evaded, the CRA said.

The CRA said information from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (Fintrac), Canada's anti-money-laundering watchdog agency, has played a "significant" role in the investigation. Fintrac gathers information on financial transactions, such as all transfers of $10,000 or more into and out of Canada.

"These search warrants show that our investments are paying off and we are starting to see results. Fighting tax evasion is a priority for our government," Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said in a statement.

This is the third time in 16 months that the CRA has publicized raids by its agents as part of international tax-evasion investigations. 

The tax agency used to be cagey about divulging information on ongoing probes, but that changed amid criticism of the CRA's effectiveness at pursuing offshore tax cheats.

The CRA says it now has more than 55 criminal investigations underway into tax evasion "with an international component" — though even that terminology can be murky. It doesn't necessarily mean sophisticated international schemes. In the past, the agency counted any tax-evasion case where any money came from, or ended up, outside Canada as "offshore." That included an instance where someone obtained a fraudulent GST rebate in Canada and then transferred the funds to a bank account in the United States.  

Five of the CRA's ongoing "international" criminal investigations, it says, are linked to the Panama Papers, the huge 2016 leak of tax-haven financial records that exposed the offshore bank accounts and shell companies of tens of thousands of people around the world, including nearly 900 Canadians.

As of April, the CRA still couldn't point to any money it's actually recovered as a result of the Panama Papers, though it said it has assessed $14.9 million in federal taxes and penalties. Other countries have recouped hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to the revelations in the leak.


Follow Zach Dubinsky on Twitter @DubinskyZach

About the Author

Zach Dubinsky

Senior Writer, CBC Investigations Unit

Zach Dubinsky is an investigative journalist. His reporting on offshore tax havens (including the Paradise Papers and Panama Papers), political corruption and organized crime has won multiple national and international awards. Phone: 416-205-7553. Email zach.dubinsky@cbc.ca