Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canada Revenue Agency would investigate Canadians names in the Paradise Papers. as he fended off questions about his relationship with his close ally and Liberal Party fundraiser Stephen Bronfman.
The comments came a day after ICIJ and its partners, which included Canada’s CBC, published the year-long investigation.
“We are fully committed to fighting tax evasion and tax avoidance,” said Trudeau, speaking in the House of Commons. “I will let the individuals involved comment on the situation. But I can tell you that the revenue agency is examining all links abroad and will take all necessary measures concerning the Paradise Papers.”
The comments came after ICIJ and partners revealed that Bronfman, who led the fundraising for Trudeau’s successful campaign for prime minister and later became the Liberal Party’s chief fundraiser, had close ties to an offshore trust that may have avoided taxes in the United States, Canada, and Israel, and whose moves may have at times run afoul of tax rules, according to experts.
Bronfman and his family lent millions of dollars — sometimes with unusually generous conditions — in the 1990s and 2000s to offshore entities associated with the Kolber family. Those entities include the Kolber Trust, which was set up in the Cayman Islands by Bronfman’s godfather, Leo Kolber, a former Liberal senator who had also served as the Liberals’ chief fundraiser.
Bronfman declined ICIJ’s requests to comment on its story before it was published, but in a statement issued Monday, said, “Stephen Bronfman is a proud Canadian and has always fully complied with all legal requirements, including with respect to taxes. Stephen Bronfman has never funded nor used offshore trusts. His Canadian trusts have paid all taxes on all their income to the Canadian Government.”
The statement also said, “the single loan made over a quarter century ago to the Kolber Trust was repaid 5 months later, and was on an arm’s length, fully commercial basis, in full compliance with all legal requirements, including with respect to taxes. Stephen Bronfman had no other direct or indirect involvement whatsoever in the Kolber Trust.”
The Paradise Papers documents, however, show that Bronfman’s investment firm, Claridge Inc., and his family had close ties to the Kolber Trust beyond that loan. Those ties included shared advisers and lawyers, as well as millions of dollars in other loans to Kolber family entities offshore.