PKP refutes allegations Quebecor keeps cash in tax havens
Published Monday, January 25, 2016 8:08AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 25, 2016 6:30PM EST
Pierre Karl Peladeau is once again taking to Facebook to confront allegations against him -- and once again threatening legal action against his critics.
The leader of the Parti Quebecois posted a rebuttal early Monday morning saying that a Radio-Canada report concerning Quebecor hiding accounts in tax havens isn't a bombshell -- instead it's a dud.
Radio-Canada aired a report Sunday evening saying that Quebecor, the massive media company in which Peladeau owns a controlling interest, has been active in ten separate tax havens.
The report claims to have found 30 companies either created by or tied to Quebecor in tax havens around the world.
Peladeau said he will review the report in full at a later date, but so far believes it to be not entirely true.
Quebecor released a statement Monday afternoon denying the contents of the report, as Peladeau said he was weighing his legal options.
Last week La Presse reported that when Peladeau was president and chair of Quebecor, the company repeatedly placed funds in overseas tax shelters.
Peladeau said that under his leadership Quebecor never created such tax structures. Instead, he said Quebecor inadvertently found itself owning funds in tax havens when it acquired companies, such as Videotron. Peladeau insists that the accounts were closed as they were discovered.
“You would have to ask Quebecor. I have no personal knowledge of this. On the contrary, I gave instructions not to create them," said Peladeau.
"I didn't necessarily know they even existed."
Radio-Canada contends that is not the case, and that it has discovered accounts, apparently operated by Quebecor subsidiaries that were opened years ago and are still active.
After being grilled for 15 minutes, Peladeau couldn't say whether or not subsidiaries were used to pay less tax in Quebec.
Radio-Canada said Peladeau and Quebecor never answered their reporters on this matter.
Peladeau says that his chief of communications, Annick Belanger, told reporters in October 2015 why Peladeau would not discuss the case -- and threatened to sue if those reporters if necessary.
Tax expert Allison Christians, who is an Associate Professor at McGill Law, said there’s only one way to find out if Peladeau is telling the truth.
“It’s very simple. If you complied with all the laws, you should open the tax returns and let the people see it. Why not?” she said.
What may be a common business practice is raising ethical questions for an aspiring premier, who is vowing to fight tax evasion, said political analyst Jean Lapierre.
“He's got some problems with grey areas from when he was in business, and now he has to come crystal clear. So they’d better bite the bullet now. We're 33 months away from an election and they’ll have to clean that mess right away,” he said.
Lapierre points out there are many other messes to clean up as well with rumours of party infighting and questions over financing a new sovereignty think tank,
Radio-Canada is promising more bombshells in its full report, due out on Thursday.