The Canada Revenue Agency website warns of fraud (BlackburnNews.com file photo)

Tax evasion probe reaches London and Windsor

Locations in Windsor and London have been raided as part of an international investigation into tax evasion.

According to the Canada Revenue Agency, the locations in Windsor and London were among those that were included in 15 simultaneous searches in Ontario and Quebec on Wednesday.

The searches in Windsor, London, Ottawa, the Greater Toronto Area, Gatineau, Laval, and Montréal are part of an international tax evasion probe to collect more information on approximately $8.3 million in evaded taxes.

Approximately 128 members of the CRA, assisted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, took part in searching each of the locations in Canada for evidence corresponding to offences committed against the Income Tax Act and the Criminal Code.

“The CRA would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada to this criminal investigation,” the CRA wrote in a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

Under the income tax and excise tax laws, persons convicted of tax evasion can face fines ranging from 50 per cent to 200 per cent of the evaded taxes and up to five years behind bars.

If convicted of fraud under Section 380 of the Criminal Code, an individual can face up to 14 years in prison.

The Canada Revenue Agency won’t reveal addresses or names of where the raids took place.

“In order to ensure the integrity of ongoing investigations, protect the safety of our investigators, and ensure we respect the confidentiality provisions of the legislation we administer, the CRA does not comment or provide details on ongoing investigations or taxpayer-specific information,” the CRA wrote in an email to BlackburnNewsWindsor.com.

The CRA did confirm that there have been no charges laid to date.

“As with any criminal investigation undertaken by law enforcement bodies, including the CRA, these can be complex and require months or years to complete,” added the CRA. “This will be dependent on the complexity of the case, the number of individuals involved, the availability of information or evidence, cooperation or lack thereof of witnesses and the various legal tools that may need to be employed to gather sufficient evidence to establish a case beyond reasonable doubt.”

The CRA publishes information about possible tax non-compliance and other enforcement actions to encourage voluntary compliance, demonstrate its commitment to enforcing the tax laws and to take action against those who do not comply.

Changes to the Criminal Investigations Program were implemented over the past few years to strengthen the CRA’s ability to target and investigate the most egregious cases of tax crimes and it said, “this case is an example of this approach working”.

From April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2019, the courts convicted 231 taxpayers for tax evasion of over $111 million in federal tax. These convictions resulted in sentences totaling over $30 million in court fines and 212 years in jail.

For the five year period, from April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2019, the courts convicted 17 taxpayers of tax evasion with links to offshore money and other assets. This involved over $7 million in federal taxes evaded and court sentences totalling over $5 million in court fines and  29 years in jail.