National Post (Latest Edition)
Former Calgary MP charged with tax evasion
Dates back to when Anders was in office
OT TAWA • Former Conservative member of Parliament Rob Anders has been charged with tax evasion allegedly committed while he sat as an MP, National Post has learned.
For most of his political career, Rob Anders led the charge against taxes and big government in Ottawa. Now, prosecutors on behalf of the Canada Revenue Agency ( CRA) are charging the former Calgary West MP with allegedly not paying his share of taxes during the same years taxpayers were funding his salary.
On Sept. 17, prosecutors laid five separate charges against Anders relating to tax evasion on behalf of the CRA. Most of the alleged crimes occurred while Anders sat as an MP between 1997 and 2015.
The three first charges allege that he made “false or deceptive statements” when reporting his total taxable income for 2012, 2013 and 2014 to the CRA.
The fourth charge alleges that he “wilfully evaded or attempted to evade payment of taxes” for up to six years, between 2012 and 2018.
The fifth charge alleges that Anders obtained, or at least claimed, tax refunds for which he was not eligible between 2012 and 2015.
“In other words, it is reasonable to assume from the charges that CRA alleges he did not declare some of his income for at least three years. That could be from anything, such as a side business for example,” said Denis Meunier, an anti- money laundering consultant and former director general responsible for criminal investigations at the CRA.
“And as a result of those years of undeclared revenue, he allegedly evaded payment of taxes. And then by doing so, he also claimed too many credits or made deductions to which he may not have been allowed, thus getting a refund from CRA,” he said.
According to Meunier and another ex- CRA criminal investigators who looked at the charges for National Post, the accusations are “extremely serious”. On its website, the agency states that individuals convicted of tax evasion face up to five years in prison as well as fines worth up to 200 per cent of the total amount of taxes evaded.
“In addition, the fingerprints of individuals charged with, or convicted of, tax evasion are kept in the Canadian Police Information Centre ( CPIC) and are available to all domestic law enforcement agencies. Foreign law enforcement agencies with links to the CPIC system may consider such an individual as not admissible to their country,” the agency warns.
Anders did not respond to requests for comment on Monday and Tuesday.
Though none of CRA’S allegations have been tested by the courts, just the fact that prosecutors decided to lay criminal charges against Anders is a bad sign for the former MP, the experts say. In the last fiscal year, federal prosecutors for CRA’S tax-related files got convictions in 94 per cent of their cases, the agency says.
“The key word here is materiality. CRA wouldn’t even start an investigation unless it was material and significant. Generally, the consideration is the amount of mone y in ques tion,” Meunier explained.
Anders is due for his first court appearance in Calgary on Oct. 30, at which point the court file containing more details about his alleged crimes will be made available to the public.
These charges are just the latest controversy to hit Anders, who was already an extremely polarizing figure by the time he left federal politics.
A close ally and supporter of Stephen Harper’s, Anders was a founding member of the Conservative Party of Canada after the fusion of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives.
The former Calgary West MP was best known for two things: his strong social and fiscal conservative views, as well as being the only Canadian parliamentarian in 2001 to vote against bestowing honorary citizenship to South African hero Nelson Mandela.
At the time, he accused Mandela of being a communist and a terrorist.
Over a decade later, Anders was removed from the Veterans Affairs committee after being accused of falling asleep during certain witnesses’ testimonies, as well as arriving late and texting during meetings.
Anders’ federal politics career came to an end ahead of the 2015 federal elections, when he lost the nomination race for the newly created riding of Calgary Signal Hill to former provincial minister Ron Liepert.
At the time, Prime Minister Harper had endorsed Anders, saying: “Rob is a true reformer and a true conservative. He has been a faithful supporter of mine and I am grateful for his work.”
The CRA declined to provide any details on the case.