Victims of a multibillion-dollar investment scam based in Montreal that siphoned more than $500 million offshore are urging federal lawmakers to reopen an investigation into Canadian shell companies set up in the Isle of Man, a notorious tax haven used by multinational accounting firms.
Janet Watson wrote to her local MP, Marie-Claude Bibeau, the federal Liberal minister of agriculture, last month, requesting that the federal government reopen the file on behalf of the victims.
Watson’s retirement savings were wiped out in a scam involving three Montreal companies — Cinar, Norshield, and Mount Real — that defrauded thousands of ordinary Canadians.
Parliamentarians have previously expressed interest in the Isle of Man following reports that the accounting company KPMG assisted in the creation of offshore shell companies for undisclosed wealthy Canadian clients.
After protests from KPMG regarding the possible effect on pending court proceedings, the House of Commons finance committee unexpectedly halted questioning into offshore shell firms in the Isle of Man in 2016.
Three of the tax cases were subsequently settled out of court by the Canada Revenue Agency, but the committee’s investigation was never revived.
Documents also say that some of the funds that went missing offshore could be linked to four Isle of Man shell companies that were used to conceal money from creditors
Watson said in an email to Bibeau in early March that was forwarded to hundreds of fellow investors that it is time for politicians to investigate what happened to their money lost offshore in a Ponzi scheme, a scam in which the apparent returns are actually paid out using money from new investors, that it is time for politicians to investigate what happened to their money lost offshore in a Ponzi scheme, a fraud in which the apparent returns are actually paid out using money from new investors.
Watson also wants MPs to keep financial firms responsible for failing to adequately inspect investment funds as money was being siphoned off to other countries.
“The RCMP is not prepared to handle this kind of investigation,” she said, pointing out that the Mounties had previously declined a request to investigate the missing funds.
Watson also wants MPs to hold financial institutions liable for failing to properly audit investment funds when money was being siphoned off to other countries.
“The RCMP is not prepared to handle this type of investigation,” she said, noting that the Mounties had previously turned down a request to look into the missing funds.
Watson was responding to recent investigative reports, that exposed possible ties between their lost investments and financial transactions in the Isle of Man, a British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland notorious for providing offshore secrecy and serving as a tax haven.
The documentaries have revealed that classified emails obtained from an offshore leak of financial documents link KPMG to four shell companies suspected of being linked to fraud by some financial experts.
Shashqua, Katar, Spatha, and Sceax are four companies named after ancient swords that were established nearly two decades ago on the Isle of Man.
KPMG’s external counsel said in a letter, that the author of those emails is mistaken and that any claim that KPMG assisted in the formation of those companies is “false and defamatory.”