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Paradise Papers: Bronfman, Habs issue denials after being swept up in storm

Paradise Papers: Bronfman, Habs issue denials after being swept up in storm”

In response to suggestions from some tax experts, based on the leaked documents, that questionable transactions may have occurred within the offshore trust account, Bronfman said Monday in a statement he "has never funded nor used offshore trusts" and that his "Canadian trusts have paid all taxes on all their income to the Canadian Government".

Queen Elizabeth II and several of Donald Trump's allies are said to be among 120 worldwide figures and companies who have been exploiting secret offshore tax havens to protect their wealth, an global team of journalists has learned.

The Bronfman family has always been friendly with the current prime minister and his father, Pierre Trudeau, who led Canada for 15 years.

Bronfman raised millions for Trudeau's campaign as the revenue chairman of the Liberal Party of Canada.

"The CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) is reviewing links to Canadian entities and will take appropriate action in regards to the Paradise Papers", John Power - the spokesman for Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier - said.

Also among the leaked documents was a register of investors in Madagascar Oil that lists Chretien as having received 100,000 stock options. Any trusts "have paid all taxes on all their income to the Canadian government".

Chretien says Madagascar Oil was a client of Heenan Blaikie, a now-defunct Canadian law firm.

"I never received any share options and I never had a bank account outside Canada", Chretien said.

New Democratic Party parliamentary leader Guy Caron accused the Trudeau Liberals of "making it easier for their friends to place their money in offshore accounts... and not pay their fair share".

In Monday's statement, Bronfman said that a "single loan made over a quarter-century ago to the Kolber Trust was repaid five months later, and was on an arm's length, fully commercial basis, in full compliance with all legal requirements, including with respect to taxes".

The use of offshore trusts by Canadians is legal, although legislation over the past two decades has tried to limit their tax benefits. And there may be other legitimate reasons for setting up an offshore account, including if you're a contractor doing work in a particular country.

Surely, a similar argument can be made about offshore tax havens. "What's illegal about offshore trusts is to not declare it to CRA".

These assurances, however, failed to quell opposition attacks on the government.

The first was Stephen Bronfman of Canada's iconic Bronfman family, who, aside from being a close friend of Trudeau, was also his chief fundraiser for the 2015 election.

Mr. Trudeau told parliament the government "is fully committed to fighting tax avoidance and tax evasion, and we will continue to ensure [authorities] pursue all [tax] infringes on many years to come". As the result of audits over the past two years, the agency says it has identified some $25 billion in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties but it's not saying how much has actually been collected to date from those using the schemes.



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