Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Two former Canada Revenue auditors face charges in tax-evasion scheme

The Canada Revenue Agency.

Francis Vachon/The Canadian Press

Two former federal fiscal bureaucrats face charges on allegations that they received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in a Montreal-based tax-evasion scheme that deprived the government of $4.5-million in tax revenue.

Also being charged is Francesco Fiorino, 54, a chartered accountant who had been charged last year on allegations that he conspired with two construction bosses to evade tax on more than $3-million by using bogus invoices and a fictitious identity.

The latest charges are part of a long-running RCMP investigation, code-named Project Coche, into allegations that corrupt auditors at the Canada Revenue Agency's Montreal office helped local entrepreneurs evade tax.

Story continues below advertisement

According to previously filed court documents, Project Coche is a continuation of a 2006 police probe into the Montreal Mafia.

The RCMP said it arrested Mr. Fiorino Thursday morning, along with two former CRA employees, Gennaro Di Marzio, 49, and Nicola Iammarrone, 53.

Mr. Fiorino faces 34 criminal counts for bribery of public officers, breach of trust by a public officer, fraud against the government and fraud.

Mr. Di Marzio, a former CRA team leader, will be charged on 11 criminal counts while Mr. Iammarrone faces 12 counts.

The three men will appear in court July 4, said an RCMP spokesman, Corporal Luc Thibault.

"Fiorino offered his clients to reduce their tax burden in exchange for a sum of money. He allegedly set up a bribery scheme that made it possible for a number of public officers to pocket several hundred thousand dollars. Di Marzio and Iammarrone used the money received to bribe other public officers reporting to them so they would circumvent tax audits," the police said in a statement.

A fourth person was also arrested and being questioned. The RCMP said charges could be filed against him.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Iammarrone's name has appeared in court documents before, on allegations that he was part of a group of nine CRA auditors who were wined and dined in a luxury box at a Montreal Canadiens hockey game.

The documents alleged that their host, construction entrepreneur Frank Bruno, benefited from laxer audits that enabled his companies to avoid paying millions of dollars in federal taxes.

The RCMP has previously identified Mr. Fiorino as Mr. Bruno's accountant. The two, along with another construction boss, Antonio Accurso, were charged last year with fraud and forgery.

Mr. Accurso also faces charges in two other investigations by Quebec's anti-corruption squad into the way public works contracts were awarded in cities north of Montreal.

An RCMP search warrant obtained by The Globe and Mail in 2009 shows that the current investigation started in 2007, when police transferred information to Revenue Canada about a tile company called B.T. Céramique Inc., which was owned by Mr. Bruno.

During a raid at Mr. Bruno's house, the warrant said, investigators found a picture of Mr. Bruno with two CRA officials. Revenue Canada, alleged that it learned that Mr. Bruno and the two CRA employees had opened bank accounts in the Bahamas and Switzerland that contained up to $1.7-million.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.