Ex-CRA au­di­tor sen­tenced to 9 months for graft

Montreal Gazette - - CITY - PAUL CHERRY pcherry@post­media.com

A for­mer Canada Rev­enue Agency au­di­tor who so­licited a bribe from a restau­rant in Plateau-Mont-Royal was sen­tenced to a nine-month prison term on Thurs­day.

When it comes to pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion, the courts “have to serve as a means to avoid the prop­a­ga­tion of cor­rup­tion,” Que­bec Court Judge Yves Par­adis said be­fore sen­tenc­ing Elias Kawkab, 54, a res­i­dent of the St-Lau­rent bor­ough.

Defence lawyer Giuseppe Bat­tista had re­quested a dis­charge while fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor Cather­ine Le­gault had re­quested a prison term be­tween 12 and 15 months.

In 2007, the own­ers of the Ara­hova restau­rant were ad­vised, by their lawyer, that a CRA au­di­tor claimed they were fac­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a $250,000 fine for fail­ing to re­port rev­enue gen­er­ated be­tween 2004 and 2006. The lawyer told the own­ers that he was told a bribe might make their prob­lems go away. An au­dit be­gan two months af­ter the lawyer warned his clients.

Fac­ing pos­si­ble bank­ruptcy if such a fine were levied, the restau­rant’s man­ager sought help through an ac­quain­tance and was in­tro­duced to Kawkab, then a “team leader” of a group of CRA au­di­tors.

Kawkab was fired in 2011 af­ter an RCMP in­ves­ti­ga­tion dubbed Project Coche led to crim­i­nal charges be­ing filed against him and seven other CRA em­ploy­ees who worked out of the agency’s down­town of­fices. Last year, he pleaded guilty to fraud and breach of trust.

There was no ev­i­dence that Kawkab ini­ti­ated what hap­pened to the restau­rant’s own­ers. He en­tered the picture af­ter the restau­rant man­ager sought help. Af­ter much dis­cus­sion, Kawkab told the man­ager that his prob­lems could be re­solved for $100,000. A mem­ber of the fam­ily that owns the restau­rant took out a sec­ond mort­gage on his home and Kawkab was handed the money in his car.

Months later, the man­ager re­gret­ted hav­ing paid the bribe. He con­tacted Kawkab and de­manded that at least some of the cash be re­turned. Kawkab agreed to re­turn half.

While de­liv­er­ing his de­ci­sion on Thurs­day, Par­adis said Kawkab’s role in the af­fair can­not be sum­ma­rized as brief or in­ci­den­tal.

“His im­pli­ca­tion lasted for some time. He served as an in­ter­me­di­ary in the ne­go­ti­a­tions, he col­lected the amount re­quested,” Par­adis said. “What­ever his mo­ti­va­tion was, the Court can’t ac­cept that a pub­lic of­fi­cial from (CRA) was in­volved in any way in a cor­rup­tion op­er­a­tion to­ward tax­pay­ers.”

Elias Kawkab

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.