By Allan Cutler
For the past four years, I have been attempting to get Bradley Birkenfeld to come to Canada and assist the Canadian government by testifying and providing valuable documentation regarding the illegal off-shore industry. Birkenfeld believes that there is at least $1-billion in federal unpaid taxes in Canada.
Birkenfeld was an American banker working in Switzerland. As a whistleblower, he exposed the largest and longest running tax fraud by Americans using off-shore accounts. The unprecedented results were shocking and ultimately he received an award of $104-million from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) since more than $5-billion of unpaid taxes were recovered. In keeping with the fine traditions of the U.S.A., the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecuted him (and only him) for the exact revelations that had resulted in this award. The absolutely false argument made by the DOJ was that he withheld a client name from them. In any event, he received a criminal record and a 31-month jail term for the historic and courageous actions.
The story does not end there. Birkenfeld has been instrumental in the massive fraud investigation against the Swiss Banks and the further release of names of tax evaders by Swiss authorities. To this day, Birkenfeld continues to fight this corruption and has helped a number of foreign governments to recover what is rightly owed them.… Read the rest
Posted by Allan Cutler on October 4, 2016
Three weeks ago, Sylvie Therrien, a federal Employment Insurance fraud investigator, was fired for leaking documents that exposed a quota that she and her coworkers were required to meet. She is the latest victim of a continued war against whistleblowers in the federal government, one that has not slowed despite the passage of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act in 2007. Her case, both tragic on a personal level and disturbing on a public level, says much about the culture of the senior public service.
When questioned about the matter Ms. Therrien brought to light, the government claimed that it wasn’t a quota, but rather a target. Furthermore, it argued that it was justified in firing her because she had ignored internal avenues of dissent and had released documents not intended for public disclosure.
These claims need to be examined in a broader context in order to understand how weak they are. Ms. Therrien exposed a directive which targeted EI recipients in a manner that created a moral hazard for government fraud investigators: that is, they were being given an incentive to make decisions based not on the merits of a case, but to meet a quota (or target) for which they would be rewarded.… Read the rest
Posted by Ian Bron on November 18, 2013
Yesterday’s post dealt with accountability issues in Alberta. Today I turn my attention back to Quebec, which has had some serious problems of corruption come to light in the past couple of years. This includes corruption in the construction industry, corruption in contracts at Montreal City Hall, a highly unethical second salary paid to the Premier by the Liberal Party (i.e. donors) and allegations of corruption in the judicial appointments process.
As bad as that is, it just got worse. It appears that Canada Revenue Agency officials were taking bribes to help businesses avoid taxes, with one person calling the problem “systemic”. In addition, the Radio-Canada’s program Enquête reported that municipal elections were being corrupted by firms who received contracts approved by winners.
As in Alberta, the provincial government is declining any kind of inquiry – there, it’s the health system, and in Quebec it’s the construction industry and democratic administration and processes. (The CRA issue is, admittedly, a federal government scandal as well.)
It seems inappropriate to me that a government – which has the most to lose – would determine whether an inquiry is held or not. Shouldn’t there be some kind of, um, ombudsman with such powers? But the answer to that, of course, is deeply rooted in our democratic processes and, indeed, our Constitution (both written and unwritten).… Read the rest
Posted by Ian Bron on March 15, 2011