White Collar Crime Defence
Financial crimes, also known as “white collar” crimes, involve allegations of impropriety with money or business practices. They range from the smallest fraud to multimillion dollar Ponzi schemes. The most common examples of financial crimes are tax evasion; fraud, and money laundering. For many years, Canada had a reputation as a haven for white collar crime because of a patchwork of weak legislation, lax enforcement, and lenient sentences. That is no longer the case. Because of a few recent high-profile cases in Canada and the United States, as well as the growing interconnectedness of global economies, Canada has overhauled much of its financial legislation and has stepped up its campaign of enforcement. Sentences have been significantly increased.
These cases are complex, because they are based on documentary evidence, and often require specialized interpretation by forensic accountants, business valuators, and other professionals. The investigating agencies are usually powerful and well-funded, such as the Canada Revenue Agency, the RCMP or the Ontario Securities Commission.
Speak With a Defence Group Lawyer About Fraudulent Bank Loans and Other Financial Crimes
At The Defence Group, we will develop a team that can understand every nuance of your business and the government’s investigation, and prepare an effective strategy to win your case. We have many years of experience in this area, and have worked on the side of the government before devoting our efforts full-time to defending our clients against them. We will work with you, often before charges are even laid, to negotiate with government agencies, advise you on how to position yourself and your business to avoid prosecution, and how to deal with issues such as search warrants and asset seizures. We will also scrutinize the conduct of the authorities to ensure that your rights are respected and seek the strongest remedies possible if they are not (see Charter of Rights).
Tax Evasion Defence Lawyer in Toronto
The Canada Revenue Agency is the most powerful and difficult government ministry that you will ever come into contact with. As anyone who has ever been re-assessed or penalized for late-filing or unpaid taxes knows, the CRA is arrogant and unforgiving. For anyone who has tried to track down information or seek answers to a simple tax question, the bureaucratic red tape and byzantine hierarchy of the agency are a study in frustration.
Nothing compares, however, to the anxiety of receiving a letter notifying you that you are under criminal investigation by the Canada Revenue Agency.
Sometimes the first indication that you are under suspicion comes when a team of CRA investigators and police show up at your home or office, armed with a search warrant. Months can go by before you know what the outcome of the investigation will be. If you are charged, the case could drag on for years if not handled properly. And the penalties for tax crimes are severe: multiple civil and criminal financial penalties with compounding interest; the seizure of your assets, and even incarceration in jail. Furthermore, tax prosecutions are not handled by day-to-day provincial Crown attorneys, but by specialized teams of federal prosecutors who have virtually unlimited resources at their disposal to extract every cent they can from you for the benefit of the federal Treasury.
In such an emergency, you need a team of lawyers with the skill and experience to take charge of protecting you and your interests. At The Defence Group, we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist you. Do not even think of hiring a lawyer who does not have experience dealing with the CRA. We have former federal prosecutors who have years of experience working for and against the CRA and the Justice Department, and who can bring all of that specialized knowledge, skill and network of contacts to work for you.
The most common offences charged by CRA are Tax Evasion, Filing a False or Misleading Statement; or Failure to File. Other charges include offences related to the GST, as well as customs violations such as the failure to declare money, jewelry or other merchandise at the border.
Preparing Your Defence in a Tax Evasion Case
The first step in a tax case is to protect your interests. If the CRA is investigating you or your business, we will assist you in protecting your assets and documents, so that you do not incriminate yourself or fall victim to the power of the government to seize or freeze your assets. If police and government agents are at your door armed with a search warrant, we will negotiate with them and walk you through the process so that you can protect your interests without running afoul of the law or the investigators. (See Search Warrants).
Tax cases, like fraud and money laundering charges, are extremely complex, because they rely on documents, accounting rules and conventions, business practices, valuators, financial assessments and revenue modeling such as net worth analyses, which are difficult to understand, prone to subjectivity and errors of judgment, and microscopically detailed. In the case of businesses, the documentary evidence alone can fill dozens or even hundreds of boxes. The disclosure nowadays is often in CD-ROM or special hard-drive format, requiring specific software skills to access and interpret.
We will work with you and your accountants to understand the operation of your business and the basis for the government’s concerns. We have the experience and contacts to negotiate with CRA to obtain the disclosure that we need to properly mount an effective defence, and we will file court applications to force the CRA to turn over documents that they wish to suppress (which is a very common occurrence in a powerful and secretive bureaucracy such as CRA).
In some business cases, such as those involving fraudulent charities (see Fraud), or in money laundering cases or Competition Bureau investigations, the government will often resort to Conspiracy charges as a tactic to force guilty pleas or to capture a wider circle of targets than would otherwise be feasible (see Conspiracy). In such cases, you will need the specialized knowledge and expertise of the lawyers at The Defence Group to advise and represent you.
Our representation will encompass the full panoply of tools and tactics at our disposal, from careful preparation; to negotiation; the use of motions and court applications to force disclosure and compliance with the rules of evidence, procedure and the Charter of Rights; consultations with expert witnesses; and if necessary, to take the case to trial and win in the courtroom.