POLITICS

Canada Revenue Agency to set up special snitch line for its own staff

09/16/2014 12:27 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:53 EDT
OTTAWA - The taxman wants to know if any of his own are up to no good.

That's why the Canada Revenue Agency is in the process of setting up a self-snitch line.

The so-called internal fraud and misuse reporting lines would give agency staff a way to confidentially report any concerns about their colleagues.

"Internal fraud and integrity lapses pose a serious threat to the organization's objectives and reputation and to the morale, productivity and well-being of its employees," the agency says in a new contract document.

"To mitigate the threat, it is vital that the CRA takes all reasonable measures to safeguard the assets, resources, information and reputation of the organization from fraudulent activity and inappropriate conduct by its employees."

Three Canada Revenue Agency employees were among seven people caught up in a sweep by the Mounties earlier this year.

Charges laid include bribery of public officers, conspiracy, fraud, breach of trust by a public officer and fraud against the government.

Since 2008, 15 people — including eight former Canada Revenue Agency officials — have been arrested as part of an investigation called Project Coche.

Back in 2010, The Canadian Press obtained internal reports showing the agency had trouble with employees who wasted their work days surfing the Internet, setting up sports pools, sending chain letters, promoting illegal substances, sharing offensive cartoons and running pyramid schemes.

But some staff may be wary about bringing their concerns to a supervisor, the agency says.

Others may fear their covers could be blown. There's no guarantee of anonymity under either the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act. That means any information gathered over the course of an investigation into wrongdoing is accessible — although personal information would most likely be blanked out in any documents released under those laws.

"While the CRA holds its 40,000 employees in the highest regard, the agency must be prepared to address rare instances of misconduct so that we can preserve the integrity of the tax system and remain accountable to the ethics and values that form the heart of our mandate," agency spokesman Philippe Brideau wrote in an email.

Employees will have the option of calling a toll-free hotline, sending letters through the mail or lodging their concerns through a website, he added.

Tipsters won't get any special rewards for turning in their colleagues.

"This system is integrity-based rather than rewards-based, and is currently scheduled for implementation by March 2015," Brideau wrote.

This isn't the first time the agency has set up a snitch line.

A hotline to try to catch people who may be hiding money offshore has been up and running since January.

The Offshore Tax Informant Program offers tipsters a cash reward of up to 15 per cent if the agency collects more than $100,000 in taxes owed. The downside? The reward money must be claimed on the tipster's income tax.

There's also a third snitch line that's focused on domestic tax fraud and pays no rewards.

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