The Canada Revenue Agency has once again made a secret out-of-court settlement with wealthy KPMG clients caught using what the CRA itself had alleged was a "grossly negligent" offshore "sham" set up to avoid detection by tax authorities, CBC's The Fifth Estate and Radio-Canada's Enquête have learned.
"Tax cheats can no longer hide," National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier promised in 2017.
Now, tax court documents obtained by CBC News/Radio-Canada show two members of the Cooper family in Victoria, as well as the estate of the late patriarch Peter Cooper, reached an out-of-court settlement on May 24 over their involvement in the scheme.
Details of the settlement and even minutes of the meetings discussing it are under wraps. A CBC News/Radio-Canada reporter who showed up to one such meeting this spring was asked to leave.
CBC News/Radio-Canada first revealed four years ago that KPMG, one of the largest accounting firms in Canada, with tens of millions in federal contracts, had for years been running a massive offshore tax dodge for wealthy clients it had kept hidden from federal investigators.
The Trudeau government's previous tough talk on the so-called KPMG sham had come after a document leaked to The Fifth Estate/Enquête showed the CRA itself had offered a secret "no penalties" amnesty in May 2015 to many of the other KPMG clients involved in the scheme.
The CRA offered to have them simply pay the back taxes owed — but with the condition they not tell the public about the offer.
...In fact, it was concerns over future KPMG court cases that prompted the Liberal-dominated Commons finance committee to shut down its own investigation into the embattled accounting firm back in 2016.
Documents had already began to emerge detailing the extent to which KPMG was helping clients not only dodge taxes but also hide money from potential creditors, including circumventing the Canadian Divorce Act by "protecting" assets from ex-spouses.
...For its part, the CRA said that the [secret] settlement was made in accordance with the law [we have their word on that] and is "supported by the facts of this particular case." The agency also said it "maximized revenue" by making a decision to settle out of court, instead of facing an uncertain ruling in tax court.
"There is generally substantial savings to the public and a benefit to the justice system when cases are resolved through a settlement," a CRA spokesperson said in a statement.Grossly negligent? Oh, I know, kids will be kids. Nonsense. This was not negligence. There was nothing remotely inadvertent about it.