Three weeks after the rout of the trial SharQc, another major investigation was cut to pieces, this time on corruption and tax fraud. The court declared inadmissible evidence used to deposit more than 1,000 charges against former federal officials and entrepreneurs like Tony Accurso.
For now, the ruling Friday by Judge Dominique Larochelle concerns only the case of four people accused of many in the wake of the “Project Legaux,” an investigation by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Mr. Accurso is not the number.
But it is almost certain that all the other defendants will argue the same arguments that the evidence be rejected under their own trial. The case should snowball.
The Project Legaux was somehow the mother of all investigations to the CRA as it spawned offshoots. He carried on suspicion of internal corruption and the tax authorities on tax evasion schemes that took advantage of building contractors.
Other government agencies such as the RCMP and Revenu Québec then picked up the baton and launched their own investigations based on the findings of Project Legaux. Some of the proceedings that resulted in (many have not yet been found):
Seven people arrested by the RCMP and charged with pocketing of bribes or commissions on tax credits obtained fraudulently.
One of the major litigation in the history of Revenu Québec: 928 filing charges, mainly against Tony Accurso and its companies, with request for prison sentences and fines of more than 8.5 million.
Two former CRA auditors are arrested by the RCMP and charged with corruption.
Deposit by Revenu Québec 97 charges against companies BT Céramique, Maintenance Torrelli and their directors.
Five people were arrested by the RCMP and charged, including Tony Accurso and the leader of BT Céramique, Francesco Bruno, for a scheme of false invoices.
Francesco Bruno, BT Ceramics, agrees with the CRA and pleads guilty to a series of tax summary offenses.
Simard Beaudry and Louisbourg, both companies to Tony Accurso, recognize guilty of tax offenses and are sentenced to pay 8.2 million.
But according to Judge Dominique Larochelle, initial CRA investigation was marred by a serious violation of the rights of the persons concerned. The federal tax authorities have used the pretext of a tax audit for supplying fresh criminal investigation.
The Supreme Court has emphasized the distinction between “investigation” and “verification” is important.
For when the taxman comes to check the finances of a Canadian to ensure that it pays its fair share of taxes, the law authorizes him to put his nose in every relevant document and ask the most pointed questions . The citizen is obliged to bow to the will of the auditor. A notice of assessment is sent if it is determined that he owed money and the matter ends there.
If the CRA investigators launched an investigation that could lead to criminal charges, while the Canadian finds his right to silence, the right to counsel, and a host of protections guaranteed by the Charter of Rights. Both procedures must be perfectly sealed.
The lawyer Francesco Bruno, who has pleaded the illegality of the operation in this case, is himself a former Crown prosecutor.
“We all want justice. But when one goes in search of justice and we’re willing to break laws to get there, there is a problem, “said Mr. Christopher Mostovac, Francesco Bruno lawyer.
“There are too many competent and professional people to attack the Canada Revenue Agency as such. But there are employees at the management level, who asked reprehensible acts. This was done in there, it’s totally unacceptable. This is the kind of gesture that would never see the part of a public servant “, he lamented.
Revenu Québec, who had gone seize evidence directly from its federal vis-à-vis to meet up with tainted evidence in hand, noted the judgment yesterday.
“The Court of Québec concluded that CRA has violated the constitutional rights of defendants, but it is essential to specify that no criticism is made with respect to Revenu Québec. We will analyze this decision and its consequences, and then take the necessary actions in the interests of taxpayers, “said spokesman Stephane Dion. Impossible to say at this point whether the decision will be appealed.
The Canada Revenue Agency was not able to comment yesterday.
Mr. Louis Belleau, representing Tony Accurso under criminal charges arising from this matter, was eager to read the judgment as a whole yesterday. His client is still awaiting trial. “Obviously we’ll have to analyze the impact of the judgment on our issues,” he said simply.