Three former Canada Revenue Agency employees have been charged with corruption and fraud for allegedly trying to extort money from restaurant owners in exchange for lower tax assessments.
The RCMP-led "Project Coche" resulted in 12 charges filed against the former employees Tuesday.
“It’s all the same type of pattern that they all [allegedly] did,” said RCMP Cpl. Luc Thibault.
One of the accused, a 55-year-old former tax auditor who was let go from the CRA in 2011 during the RCMP investigation, allegedly offered a restaurant owner to lower his upcoming tax notice in exchange for $90,000, according to police.
The restaurant owner declined the deal.
A 50-year-old team leader, also “discharged” from the CRA 2011, allegedly received $100,000 in bribes from a Montreal restaurant owner between June 2007 and August 2008 to erase unreported income from the file.
The third accused, a 50-year-old tax auditor who resigned in 2009, allegedly offered to lower a bogus tax notice in exchange for $50,000 in 2006. The restaurant owner refused to pay, according to the RCMP.
Philippe Brideau, a spokesperson for the CRA, said the agency can't disclose any information about employees or former employees due to privacy laws.
"As these cases are before the courts and an RCMP investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further," Brideau said in an emailed statement.
Complaint launched investigation
Police said the investigation into corruption at the CRA started in 2008 after a complaint came into the agency alleging the accused were involved in criminal activities.
“More charges could be laid in this matter,” Thibault said. “It’s still under investigation, so I can’t say much on that, but there could be more charges.”
Francesco Fazio, 55, and Elias Kawkab, 50, both of Ville Saint-Laurent, and Luigi Falcone, 50, of Laval face charges ranging from extortion to bribery of officers, fraud against the government and breach of trust by a public officer.
All three are scheduled to appear in court in Montreal in June.