Revenue minister explores 'legal options' to get CBC tax haven list
Gail Shea wants list of Canadians in document leak for 'thorough investigation'
Revenue Minister Gail Shea on Tuesday repeated her call for the CBC and other media organizations to hand over a list of names related to alleged tax evasion and suggested her department may take legal action to obtain it.
Last week, CBC News was one of 37 media outlets to report exclusive details of a massive leak of financial documents that reveal alleged use offshore tax havens to avoid income tax by thousands of people around the world, including 450 Canadians.
Shea said her department has not seen the full list of Canadian names.
"We've requested that the CBC turn over this list so we can do a thorough investigation of the names and the information that's on the list," Shea said at a press conference in Halifax.
On April 4, following publication of the CBC News story, the Canada Revenue Agency asked CBC to provide information contained in the documents and Shea issued a statement the same day announcing the request.
Shea went further Tuesday, saying she was considering her legal options.
"I do want to assure Canadians that we are working with the United States and our other international partners to explore all our legal options to obtain this list," Shea said.
But Chuck Thompson, spokesman for CBC English Services, said Tuesday "the CBC has not received any legal notification from the federal government regarding this matter."
"CBC is part of an international consortium and, like the other members of the ICIJ, our responsibility is to tell the story. As a journalistic organization and as a matter of journalistic principle, CBC News does not reveal sources nor related background information," Thompson said in a statement.
The documents, recording nearly 30 years of data entries, emails and other confidential information from 10 offshore havens around the world, were obtained by the Washington, D.C.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The CBC was the only Canadian media outlet to have the exclusive details.
A statement from the minister later Tuesday noted CRA submitted a written request for the information to the consortium and CBC that underscored "the public interest in confidential disclosure of the information to the agency."
"Tax evasion is something we take very seriously and it's for this reason that we review any information we receive and we aggressively pursue all suspected cases of tax evasion," Shea told reporters in Halifax.
She said the government has introduced several measures to combat tax evasion since 2006, including measures in the recent budget such as a whistleblower tip line to catch international tax cheats and new requirements for banks to report offshore financial transfers above $10,000.