Tax authorities are claiming millions from two former Quebec lawyers who had accounts in Switzerland. In 2015, information related to HSBC Bank was revealed in a leak. However, they confirm that the money is not theirs, but belongs to Syrian customers… which they refuse. identify
Michael Lockstone and Harold Peter Turner worked together before retiring and leaving the country. Revenue Quebec said it hid nearly $4.7 million in Swiss accounts from 2002 to 2007. Tax authorities are claiming fees, penalties and interest totaling more than $3.3 million.
But the former lawyers, who now live in Israel and London, said they “never had any personal interest” in the accounts. Instead, the funds belonged to two of their clients who were “non-residents of Canada.”
But still? Despite the tax laws, Lockstone and Turner declined to be more specific. They say their clients want “professional confidentiality.” They “forbid” them from revealing their identities, “especially since they come from a highly volatile region”, referring to their requests for an appeal for a notice of donations.
“Highly Volatile Area”
In 2020, an email filed by their former attorney in court only stated that the clients’ region of origin was actually “the Middle East and more precisely Syria.”
They called for the funds from these Swiss accounts to be distributed to their relatives if they died.
According to Lockstone and Turner, their names were listed as “authorized signatories” to “carry out instructions” they received.
However, Revenu Québec wants to know more. For the tax authorities, Lockstone and Turner’s requests for appeal, based on professional confidentiality, were “unreasonable or perverted the ends of justice” because they prevented him from justifying his cooperation.
A global leak
“The accounts in question were held at HSBC Bank in Geneva, which was the subject of the information leak,” the two lawyers said in appeals for donation notices.
Former employee-turned-whistleblower Hervé Falciani handed over the data of 106,000 clients of private bank HSBC to the French government in 2008. Paris later handed over secret accounts to several other states to spy on their own nationals.
Canada thus received information about 394 accounts “at risk” and holding large sums of money Press In 2015
French daily the world It also accessed part of the leak and shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Press gained access to those files and tracked the data in Lockstone and Turner’s accounts.
The documents show two accounts containing about 4.7 million, the same amount claimed by Revenu Quebec.
Turner’s mother in data
No traces of Syrian customers in ICIJ data. On the other hand, they mention Marjorie Turner, who was born in 1917.
Quebec tax authorities do not record this information in their procedures. But it didn’t escape the Canada Revenue Agency.
Federal tax authorities also imposed a lockstone in 2013. As part of its own procedures, Ottawa noted that bank statements on its Swiss accounts stated that “Peter Harold Turner, a lawyer working for the same firm. […]Also Marjorie Turner, mother of Peter Harold Turner”.
In 2020, the Tax Court of Canada remanded Lockstone’s assessments to the Minister of National Revenue “for reconsideration and reassessment”. According to sources who were not authorized to speak on the matter, the negotiations have reduced the amounts demanded.
accounts directly in their name
André Lauro, professor of taxation at Laval University, doesn’t see how Lockstone and Turner get away with revenue Quebec without identifying the beneficiaries of accounts that hold 4.7 million.
“It won’t stand,” he said. This is abuse of the lawyer’s role. »
Lawyers who hold money for their clients must keep it in trust accounts, he explained. However, those documents Press Instead they put the money into accounts in their own names and Turner’s mother’s, the ICIJ shows.
This is also an Ottawa understanding. In a document filed with the Tax Court of Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency said, “The appellant has presented no evidence that these are indeed accounts held in trust.
The two cases against Revenu Quebec, Lockstone and Turner, will not be resolved for several months. The deadline for submission of their file has been extended till July.
Joined by PressTheir attorney Marie-France Dompierre from Davis Ward Phillips did not respond to our questions.
If you have information on tax evasion, contact our reporter at 438-396-5546 (cell, signal, WhatsApp) or [email protected]
The sinister plans of a former immigration lawyer
While amassing millions in Swiss accounts to his name, Harold Peter Turner led a distinguished career as an immigration lawyer in Montreal. The law society says he retired in 2011, but a Federal Court ruling in 2015 revealed he had ‘advised’ a mother and daughter who wanted to cross the country to ‘lie to authorities’ at the border.
This dubious recommendation almost cost two permanent residents of Indian origin. They said that they have been staying in Canada for many years, but have not set foot in the country since 2006, but are staying in Dubai.
According to their testimony before the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), Mr Turner hid documents that showed them.
The mother told the court they were “surprised to be advised to lie”.
The former lawyer also recommended that they pass through the border post at night because at that time the agents were “part-timers and elderly,” suggesting it was easier to enter Canada.
Mr. Turner told them that was the only way to get into Canada, but not to worry, as he had done before.
Excerpt from the Commission’s decision delivered in 2018
On December 27, 2015, they reported to the Cornwall post on the Ontario-New York state border. Mr. Along with Turner, they “made false statements about their residence and other matters”, according to the IRB decision.
“Finally, after a period of questioning that lasted for several hours during the night, the truth was discovered,” the court said.
To return to Canada, permanent residents must have spent at least 730 days in the country in the past 5 years, which was not the case for the two women. The commission still accepted their return as they had to leave Dubai and the court ruled that they were at risk as women in India.
But their “gross misrepresentations at the time of admission” on Mr Turner’s advice, in the words of the IRB, almost misrepresented the standard of justice for this “borderline case”.
“The efficient and effective administration of Canada’s immigration system requires that individuals provide complete and truthful information,” the decision said. Therefore, false declarations undermine the integrity of the immigration system and should be taken seriously. »
- The accounts revealed in the SwissLeaks leak from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) are worth billions of dollars.
Sources: the worldICIJ