Parti Québécois Leader Pierre Karl Péladeau has denied a report Quebecor Inc. was actively involved in tax havens abroad when he was president of the conglomerate.
He says Quebecor has owned businesses with branches in countries that are considered tax havens but that they were set up before Quebecor eventually bought the companies in question.
Montreal La Presse reported last Friday that Quebecor World, of which Quebecor was the controlling shareholder until 2009, was involved in tax shelters.
"If there were such entities, it is because they already existed in companies that we acquired, especially in certain of (cable company) Videotron's subsidiaries, and we dismantled them over time," he wrote on social media in response to that report.
On Sunday, Radio-Canada reported that such companies were created while Péladeau was president of Quebecor.
"These are serious accusations against me," Péladeau, who is still Quebecor's controlling shareholder, told Montreal radio station 98.5 FM on Monday. He added that he even gave instructions to avoid "exotic tax structures" within Quebecor.
Asked whether other Quebecor executives might have benefited from the tax havens, Péladeau replied he did not believe so.
But Péladeau said he could not provide a "100 per cent" guarantee that Quebecor never used the havens to avoid paying tax at home.
Quebecor issued a statement later on Monday to buttress Péladeau's comments.
"Quebecor reaffirms it has never created companies, for itself or for its Quebecor Media subsidiary, in so-called 'accommodating' jurisdictions for tax purposes," the statement said.
"However, Quebecor since the creation of Quebecor Media in October 2000 has acquired numerous companies. Among those, in particular Nurun and Videotron, Quebecor inherited companies registered in these territories. Quebecor never received any tax benefits from them and dismantled them all, without exception, over time."