A senior official in the Canada Revenue Agency's audit division was beaten up leaving a staff Christmas party hours after the organization revealed that it has suspended or fired nine workers over allegations that it was infiltrated by rogue employees.
André St-Amand is an associate director on the CRA audit team that is working to clean house in the tax-collection agency.
Someone hit Mr. St-Amand repeatedly as he headed to the parking lot of the Buffet Anna Maria shortly after midnight on Saturday, and he suffered cuts and bruises to the face, Montreal police said.
No verbal threats were made, but several of Mr. St-Amand's colleagues are seeking additional protection.
"The employees are deeply distressed," said Sadri Khayat, the regional representative for the Union of Taxation Employees.
The assault was reported to Montreal police, as well as to the RCMP, given the potential links to the ongoing scandal within the CRA.
In the House of Commons on Monday, National Revenue Minister Keith Ashfield tried to reassure his staff.
"We take the safety and security of our employees very seriously, and we will ensure that they are safe at all times," Mr. Ashfield said.
During Question Period, the Bloc Québécois sought more information on a case in which two construction firms, Simard-Beaudry Construction and Construction Louisbourg, pleaded guilty to $4-million in tax evasion. The companies are alleged to have had help from two CRA officials.
"What we don't know is how many other companies benefited from the help of corrupt employees who are plying their trade at the revenue agency," Bloc MP Robert Carrier said.
Mr. Ashfield did not provide new information, and the CRA continues to keep a tight lid on the situation. Still, both the agency and the union said the ongoing internal investigations go beyond the cases involving the construction industry.
Mr. Khavat said that standards are higher at the CRA than at other federal agencies, especially in terms of confidentiality, and that the staff are hoping for a swift resolution to the controversy.
"The union is never there to provide cover for corruption or incompetence," he said. "If a few people were involved in wrongdoing, it's up to them to pay a price, and not the reputation of the 1,200 other employees."
The scandal goes back to 2007, when information from a police investigation into the Mafia led the CRA to start looking into the activities of some of its officials.
Last week, Simard-Beaudry and Louisbourg pleaded guilty to committing $4-million in tax fraud by claiming non-deductible expenses such as the construction of a luxury yacht and jewellery purchases. The firms also submitted fake invoices from two shell companies that had benefited from inside help at the CRA to avoid a tax audit, according to court documents.
In addition, court documents show the CRA rejected more than $1-million in research and development tax credits that were claimed by construction firms in previous years. A search warrant said that the brother of a former CRA employee was involved in the alleged scheme as the head of the Delvex Consulting Group.