By Daniel Leblanc, Globe and Mail, April 26, 2011
The Canada Revenue Agency has been rocked by death threats against senior investigators who have been probing allegations of corruption against former auditors at the federal tax-collection agency, police said.
Three senior CRA officials recently received tuques with an embossed skull on them, while a spouse of one of the officials received a chilling phone call at home, police officials said. The warnings started late last year, when another CRA investigator was beaten up in a parking lot after a Christmas party.
According to information obtained by The Globe and Mail and Radio-Canada, the phone threat is potentially linked to a former CRA employee who was filmed by a security camera near the public phone where the call originated. The headgear is likely a reference to a television interview in March in which an anonymous official with ties to the CRA laid out allegations of internal corruption going back years with a tuque shielding his identity.
Overall, officials involved in the investigations said the threats are related to ongoing CRA and RCMP investigations into allegations that auditors targeted businesses, especially restaurants, seeking kickbacks in exchange for favourable tax rulings.
Previously unreleased RCMP search warrants state a group of CRA insiders told business owners that they faced large tax bills that could be reduced in exchange for bribes. The search warrants, which were executed earlier this month, allege the CRA officials operating out of the agency’s office in Montreal obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash or in bank drafts.
For example, CRA auditors started looking into the books of Restaurant Arahova in 2007, and told owners that they had found undeclared revenues of more than $3-million. One of the search warrants says the restaurant owners told police the amount was wildly inflated, but that they were tempted by an offer from a CRA auditor who said the matter could be solved for $250,000.
The warrant said the figure was negotiated down to $100,000, which was obtained by remortgaging a house, and was provided in $100 bills at a meeting in a CRA official’s grey Acura.
Let's watch to see how the Harper gang handles this political 'hot potato' for the next few days.
Could this story be the final nail in the coffin of the Harper government? Or is this another story emerging too slowly for public consumption to have any influence on voting next Monday?