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Panama Papers tax raid hits West Vancouver

Someone in West Vancouver was paid a Panama Papers-related visit by officials from the Canada Revenue Agency on Wednesday.

We just don’t know who.

In a media release, the CRA announced that with the help of the West Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP, it had executed a search warrant Wednesday as part of “an offshore tax evasion criminal investigation related to the data leak from the Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca, made public in the Panama Papers.”

When asked if it could reveal who might have been the target of this search — or if there was more than one location — a spokesperson said: “The CRA cannot provide further details concerning this ongoing investigation. This includes providing details on the exact location of the searches.

“The CRA can confirm that there have been no charges laid to date. As with any criminal investigation undertaken by law enforcement bodies, including the CRA, these can be complex and require years to complete.”

A request for comment from West Vancouver police was not returned.

Investigators also made raids in Calgary and the Toronto area on Wednesday as part of the same operation, “searching for evidence with respect to the commission of offences against the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act.”

“The CRA’s investigation identified a series of transactions involving foreign corporations and several transfers through offshore bank accounts used allegedly to evade taxes,” the agency added.

The CRA release also gave credit to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, otherwise known as FINTRAC, for its contributions to the investigation. The CRA says it currently has 42 open investigations into offshore tax evasion, “which involve complex structures and potentially multi-million dollars in taxes evaded, which is consistent with our priority of focussing on sophisticated and well organized tax evasion schemes.”

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A December, 2016 report from anti-corruption group Transparency International reported that Mossack Fonseca had identified Canada “as an attractive place to set up anonymous companies.” According to the report, half of Vancouver’s 100 most expensive homes at the time had been bought using shell companies or other financial tools that obscured the identity of the true owners.

pjohnston@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/risingaction

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