Alleged tax-haven scheme linked to Canada's largest brokerage firm

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In a continuing crackdown on tax evasion, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has alleged that brokers with a branch of RBC Dominion Securities, Canada's largest brokerage company, helped clients set up accounts in the small European principality of Liechtenstein in order to avoid taxation on their wealth.

In affadavits submitted by the CRA, brokers with an RBC Dominion Securities office in Victoria, British Columbia, allegedly helped clients set up 16 offshore entities with a division of the LGT Group in Liechtenstein. While that is not a crime under Canadian law, auditors allege that the entities were used to help Canadians hide worldwide income. Thirteen individuals are either being audited or have made voluntary disclosures, admitting to tax evasion. The agency is presently investigating to see if there are any other individuals participating in this scheme. Regarding the inquiry, dubbed "Project Jade", the CRA will only say that it was launched on information from a "confidential informant".

RBC issued a written statement, saying "As a firm, we have never encouraged Canadians — not 25 years ago and not today — to set up entities in Liechtenstein, and we have never instructed our investment advisers to recommend that practice," and "we comply with all CRA requirements. This means that we provide all our clients with the forms they need to meet their personal tax obligations, and also file reports with CRA that form the basis for reviews such as this."

Three RBC employees are presently being investigated, with one remaining unidentified.


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