Canadians likely involved in Credit Suisse tax fraud: Canadians for Tax Fairness

The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen on an office building in Zurich May 20, 2014....

The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen on an office building in Zurich May 20, 2014. (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)

Giuseppe Valiante, National Bureau

, Last Updated: 12:10 AM ET

OTTAWA — The federal revenue agency won't say if Canadians were lured by Swiss bankers to hide money from the taxman, but it's very likely they were, said Dennis Howlett of Canadians for Tax Fairness.

He said Canadians have previously been caught stashing millions offshore, and it shouldn't be a surprise if Canadians are included among the clients Credit Suisse helped to commit tax fraud.

The international banking giant pleaded guilty this week to charges of helping Americans hide taxes. The firm will have to pay $2.5 billion in penalties, but won't be required to give up the names of the U.S. tax cheats.

Prosecutors said Credit Suisse had around 22,000 U.S. client accounts worth around $10 billion, which included both declared and undeclared accounts.

Howlett said Canadians were caught in 2010 hiding money in Liechtenstein. In 2013, the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists discovered that hundreds of Canadians were among a group of over 100,000 people said to be hiding money offshore from authorities.

"One would assume quite safely that Credit Suisse would also have many Canadian accounts holders as well," Howlett said.

The Canada Revenue Agency said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on whether the department is investigating the baking giant's activities in Canada.

However, CRA spokesperson Philippe Brideau said his department asked Credit Suisse in 2010 to give up information on an unnamed person in relation to an investigation into tax fraud.

Credit Suisse refused and the dispite is before the courts.

-- With files from Reuters