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lundi 12 août 2013

10 Essential Judgments in Tax Evasion

By Sarah D. Pinsonnault
Revenu Québec

“The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison wall.” - Denis Healey

Even though Québec courts have rarely imposed prison sentences for tax evasion, the mere fact that this penalty exists for such an offence reminds us that we are dealing with a matter that extends far beyond penalties and fines associated with administrative tax assessments.

In Québec, it is the Tax Administration Act, RSQ c A-6.002 – formerly the Act respecting the ministère du Revenu, RSQ, c M-31 - that governs tax-related offences committed in the province (N.B.: for ease of reference, both Acts will hereinafter interchangeably be referred to as “TAA”).  This article will focus primarily on the tax offences detailed in subparagraphs (a) and (d) of s. 62 TAA that sanctions anyone who commits or conspires to commit one of the following offences:
“(a) makes, or participates in, assents to or acquiesces in the making of, false or deceptive statements in a return, report, certificate, statement, answer, application for a refund or other document filed or made as required under a fiscal law or a regulation made under such a law;
[…]
(d) wilfully, in any manner, evades or attempts to evade compliance with a fiscal law or payment or remittance of a duty imposed under such a law;”
The TAA is a provincial statute. Therefore, the question arises whether or not the tax offences described therein can be considered true criminal offences, in that the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, both the elements of actus reus (guilty act) and mens rea (guilty mind) in order for the accused to be found guilty.  

By way of background, the Supreme Court of Canada defined, in the well-known decision R. v. Sault Ste. Marie, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 1299, AZ-78111157, three types of offences that exist in Canadian criminal law :
“1. Offences in which mens rea, consisting of some positive state of mind such as intent, knowledge, or recklessness, must be proved by the prosecution either as an inference from the nature of the act committed, or by additional evidence.

2. Offences in which there is no necessity for the prosecution to prove the existence of mens rea; the doing of the prohibited act prima facie imports the offence, leaving it open to the accused to avoid liability by proving that he took all reasonable care. This involves consideration of what a reasonable man would have done in the circumstances. The defence will be available if the accused reasonably believed in a mistaken set of facts which, if true, would render the act or omission innocent, or if he took all reasonable steps to avoid the particular event. These offences may properly be called offences of strict liability […]

3. Offences of absolute liability where it is not open to the accused to exculpate himself by showing that he was free of fault.”
These offences can respectively be referred to as: true crime offences (first category); strict liability offences (second category); and absolute liability offences (third category).

Bearing the foregoing in mind, this article will provide an overview of how the Québec courts have interpreted s. 62 TAA and the necessary elements required for a conviction in tax evasion.

1.   Québec (Sous-ministre du Revenu) c. Newport Shoe Co., AZ-79091013 (CA, 1979-03-01)
In this case, the taxpayer, Newport Shoe Company (“Newport”), appealed from its conviction and sentence for having made false or erroneous declarations, pursuant to s. 62(a) TAA, by omitting to include amounts required under the Retail Sales Tax Act, RSQ, c I-1.

At trial, Newport's secretary and shareholder admitted that she calculated the sales tax on the cost of acquisition of the company’s merchandise as opposed to its sales price, thinking that it would arrive at roughly the same amount. This was done for a period of 10 years.

Among Newport’s four essential grounds of appeal, it argued that the element of mens rea was needed to justify a conviction of this offence. However, the Court of Appeal ruled that because the tax laws in question were provincial enactments, as determined by the Supreme Court in the Sault Ste-Marie case, the offence had to be one of strict liability since the provinces did not have the legislative power to create criminal offences.

As a result, the prosecution was not required to prove the mens rea of Newport. Instead, as with all strict liability offences, Newport had to prove that it took every necessary precaution to ensure that its declarations were accurate and compliant.

On this matter, the Court of Appeal deemed that the secretary’s belief with regards to the sales tax was unreasonable and insufficient:
« Quant au quatrième motif, celui de la « mens rea », je suis aussi d’avis qu’il n’est pas fondé. Les lois fiscales dont il s’agit constituent une législation provinciale valide et comme telles, elles ne peuvent créer une infraction qui soit, à proprement parler, criminelle. Je suis d’avis que les infractions en question sont de responsabilité stricte, telles que définies par la Cour suprême dans la cause de R. c. La Corporation de la Ville du Sault Ste-Marie, 40 C.C.C. (2nd) 353  
[…] 
La croyance de dame Huot quant à la taxe de vente n’est pas raisonnable. Pour ce qui est des autres offenses, aucune défense n’a été formulée qui justifierait les omissions dans l’état des profits et pertes. L’appelante n’a aucunement établi qu’elle avait pris toutes les précautions nécessaires pour que les déclarations qu’elle faisait au fisc soient exactes. 
Ces déclarations sont manifestement contraires à la vérité et non pas seulement le résultat d’erreurs de calcul ou d’écritures comptables qui auraient passé inaperçues lors d’une vérification comptable faite suivant les règles de l’art. 
En conséquence, je suis donc d’avis que les pourvois à l’encontre des déclarations de culpabilité doivent être rejetés avec dépens. »
Ultimately, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal in part, in that the convictions were upheld but the fines imposed were reduced.  

2.   Pichette c. Sous-ministre du Revenu du Québec, AZ-82091036 (CA, 1982-02-11)
This case consisted of an appeal by the accused, Pichette, from his conviction for having wilfully evaded taxes contrary to s. 62(d) TAA. He was sentenced to pay $13,262.72 in penalties and $69.07 in fees or, failing that, sentenced to serve 9 months in prison.

At trial, according to the minutes, Pichette’s counsel formally admitted the facts contained in the charges made against him except for the word “wilfully”. Based on this, the prosecution declared its case closed but Pichette moved for non-suit because, in his opinion, the prosecution failed to prove the mens rea needed to declare him guilty of the offence.

In support of this, Pichette quoted the Sault Ste-Marie case but this time, the Court of Appeal felt it necessary to finally address the argument that “provincial offences” could never be assimilated to “true crimes”

Consequently, the Court of Appeal ruled that a provincial statute could expressly require that the prosecution prove the mens rea element in strict liability offences. When considering the language used by the legislator in s. 62(d) TAA, especially when compared to s. 62(a) TAA, the words “wilfully” and even “evade” imply an element of intent and therefore place the offence into the first category of true crimes.

However, the Court of Appeal did not end its analysis there and took into consideration, as prescribed by the Supreme Court in the Sault Ste-Marie case, public policy. As Justice Dickson stated in that case, “public welfare offences” fall into the second category of offences (strict liability offences). As previously stated, these offences do not require the proof of mens rea partly due to the fact that the requirement of having to prove each person’s individual intent would be too great of a burden to impose on the prosecution, especially for what are deemed “petty police offences”. The time and money needed to prove the mens rea in each of these cases would ultimately impede the enforcement of compliance with regulatory legislation. The counterpart to this, however, is that public welfare offences cannot carry with them the stigma associated with criminal offence convictions and therefore only penalties can be imposed.

Nevertheless, despite these remarks and observations, the Court of Appeal ruled that the legislator does not speak needlessly. By adding the word « wilfully » in s. 62(d) TAA, it thus lifted the offence to a level where mens rea had to be proven:
« In my view, failure to transmit monies collected is, indeed, a public welfare offence – an offence where, as we said above, “proving mens rea in every case would clutter the docket and impede adequate enforcement.” But – and I place a heavy emphasis on this – the language of the statute lifted the offence from one of strict liability to one where mens rea must be shown. It would have been easy to say “fails to remit”, or “omits to remit”, or, in its simplest form, “does not remit”. Had that been the case, I would, without hesitation, say that this was an offence of strict liability: let the accused demonstrate, if he can, that he had a valid excuse for not doing what the Act required him to do. This would not involve great hardship, and it would be quite in keeping with what I believe to be the spirit of the legislation. But, once again, I must stress that the legislature did not do so, and I see no reason why language which is clear should now, by judicial interpretation, be pushed beyond its proper meaning.  »
The appeal was thus allowed and a new trial was ordered.

3.   Sous-Ministre du Revenu du Quebec c. Lariviere, AZ-83091003 (CSP, 1982-11-22)
Despite the aforementioned Pichette case that dealt with s. 62(d) TAA, the Québec courts continued to designate tax evasion offences under s. 62(a) TAA as strict liability offences, whereby the proof of mens rea was not needed. In Sous-Ministre du Revenu du Quebec c. Lariviere, the Defendant, Larivière, was charged with having filed false or deceptive statements  under s. 62(a) TAA in which he omitted to declare up to $459,170.79 in income for the years 1971 to 1977. In doing so, he evaded paying $115,872.29 in taxes.

The defence argued that Larivière’s omissions were not made in bad faith. Larivière was depicted as someone who devoted all of his time and attention to his patients and entrusted his financial affairs to his accountant, Mr. Lavigueur.

Furthermore, the defence purported that the prosecution had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, as with all common law crimes in the Criminal Code, that Larivière had the mens rea necessary to commit the offence.

The Court of Sessions of the Peace (now the Court of Québec) repeated once again the rulings from the Newport Shoe and Sault Ste-Marie cases, and stated that the offence in question was one of strict liability and that the provinces did not have the law-making authority to create new crimes.

The Court then added, all the while remarking that the accused failed to rebut the statutory presumption of strict liability at the outset, that there were nonetheless factors that proved the accused was aware of the omissions in his financial statements, thereby rendering him guilty as charged:
« La preuve révèle que les déclarations étaient préparées par le comptable Lavigueur pour la signature de l’accusé. D’après le même témoin qui n’a pas été réfuté, il indiquait comme revenus et dépenses ce que l’accusé lui donnait comme étant ses revenus et dépenses. Il ne compilait pas ces revenus de listes, de livres ou données comptables qui étaient conservés par l’accusé dans son bureau et que le comptable Lavigueur a témoigné ne pas avoir vues avant l’année 1978.
Il a été constaté aussi que le montant non déclaré des revenus de sept années en cause, était supérieur au montant des revenus plus haut déclarés. L’importance de ces omissions et leurs répétitions constantes sont de nature à constituer une preuve sur laquelle la Cour, ou un jury peut s’appuyer pour en venir à la conclusion que l’accusé agissait avec connaissance de cause. 
De toute façon, indépendamment de ces dernières considérations, pour les raisons déjà indiquées, je trouve l’accusé coupable sous chaque chef d’accusation.  »
In this case, the Appellants, Service Acier Inoxidable Couture Inc. and its President, Serge Couture, appealed a judgment that declared them guilty of 18 charges of tax evasion by failing to declare and remit sales taxes under the Québec Retail Sales Tax Act, RSQ, c I-1, respectively pursuant to s. 62(d) and 68 TAA.

At trial, the President admitted that he was aware of the situation but that his company was confronted with liquidity problems and therefore they were in good faith. Nevertheless, the trial judge stated that the reading of sections 62(d) and 68 TAA required the proof of mens rea. That said, given that the Defendants voluntarily withheld remitting sales taxes, choosing instead to use that money for company purposes, the mens rea was proven.

However, before the Court of Appeal, rather than focusing on the element of mens rea, it was rather the qualification of actus reus that was called into question. In the eyes of the Court of Appeal, the offence created under s. 62(d) TAA required more than the simple non-performance of tax collection and remittance imposed under tax laws. A certain level of deceitfulness or concealment was needed, and this was not present in the case at bar:
« En l’espèce, on ne se retrouve pas dans une telle situation. Même si les appelants n’ont pas fait leurs rapports fiscaux pendant une période de temps et n’ont pas transmis les montants dont ils étaient redevables au ministère du Revenu, ils n’ont posé aucun geste pour dissimuler ces faits. Leurs livres indiquaient clairement la situation et ils les ont ouverts aux agents du ministère du Revenu du Québec, qui les ont examinés à loisir. »
The appeal was therefore allowed and they were acquitted.

A case similar to Service Acier Inoxydable is Béton St-Pierre inc. c. Sous-ministre du Revenu.  In this case, the appealing company, Béton St-Pierre, was found guilty on 17 accounts of having evaded, in accordance with s. 62(d) TAA, compliance with the law by omitting, once again, to declare and remit sales taxes.

The trial judge found that the prosecution discharged its burden of proof and agreed that the accused wilfully attempted to avoid remitting money to the government.

Before the Court of Appeal, Béton St-Pierre argued that, although it may have not always paid its taxes, it nevertheless always declared the amounts due in its annuals income statements. The Court of Appeal, in applying the definition of “evade” established in the Pichette case, granted the appeal because, although Béton St-Pierre failed to declare and remit its taxes, it did not evade compliance with the law by artifice or deceit:
« Bref, je suis d’avis que l’appelante n’a pas produit les déclarations qu’elle devait produire, qu’elle n’a pas versé au ministère ce qu’elle devait lui remettre, mais qu’elle n’a pas éludé l’observation de la loi, c’est-à-dire qu’elle n’a pas, avec adresse, par quelque artifice ou faux-fuyant, évité d’observer la loi.  »
6.   Sous-ministre du Revenu du Québec c. Nadon, AZ-98038030 (CQ, 1998-02-11)
With time, Québec courts increasingly began to require the proof of mens rea for all tax evasion offences. In Sous-ministre du Revenu du Québec c. Nadon, we learn that the mens rea need not be proved explicitly.

In this case, Nadon and seven other individuals registered to the Québec Sales Tax Registry by claiming to operate a rabbit breeding business. These types of businesses benefit from a zero-tax rate insofar as it is for human consumption. However, it was later proven that this was a scheme for the purpose of illegally claiming sales tax reimbursements.

Nadon was therefore charged, under s. 62(a) TAA, for making false statements or for having participated, consented or acquiesced to the making of false or deceptive statements. This time, the Court chose to steer away from the no longer relevant Newport Shoe case and acknowledged that, albeit not explicitly, the element of mens rea had to be proven for charges laid under s. 62(a) TAA:
« Tenant compte de la très grande similitude entre les deux textes, le Tribunal ne peut que conclure qu’il s’agit ici d’une infraction de la première catégorie et que, par voie de conséquence, la poursuite a le fardeau de prouver l’intention coupable du défendeur.
En effet, même si la décision de la Cour d’appel dans l’affaire Newport Shoes Corp. porte spécifiquement sur l’article qui nous intéresse, force est de constater, à la lumière des décisions récentes susmentionnées, que notre Cour d’Appel a modifié son approche.
Ceci étant dit, il ne faut pas conclure que le poursuivant se voit imposer l’obligation de prouver l’intention coupable de façon explicite.  »
In the case at bar, there were several discrepancies between Nadon’s statements and the evidence in the record, such as declaring to have only 4 rabbits and yet elsewhere claiming to have a rabbit hutch with 300 rabbits. Nevertheless, it became apparent that Nadon never made any expenses related to rabbit breeding. Furthermore, as part of the tax fraud scheme he was involved in, by signing documents in blank, he was thus making false statements.

Being convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Nadon knew of the scheme he was involved in or, at the very least, showed signs of wilful blindness, the Court declared him guilty of the charges laid against him.

Although this case deals with the federal equivalent of s. 62(d) TAA, it remains pertinent because it established that one can be found guilty of tax evasion technically committed by third parties. 

This case was an appeal from the dismissal of Cardoso’s appeal from his conviction for tax evasion under s. 239(1)d) of the Federal Income Tax Act, RSC 1985, c 1 (“ITA”).

Cardoso was the President of a mining company that issued shares on the market that allowed its shareholders to deduct the company’s exploration fees from their revenues. Cardoso provided the shareholders with fake invoices for exploration work. Although this work was never performed, the shareholders, in good faith, believed these amounts to be legitimate and deducted said amounts from their revenues.  

In doing so, it was technically the shareholders, and not Cardoso, who were avoiding paying taxes. Therefore, in this case, the contentious issue was whether or not Cardoso could be accused of evading the payment of taxes owed by third parties.

Although there was one dissenting judge, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and ruled that the words “every person” found at the beginning of s. 239 ITA reveals the legislator’s intent: anyone could be prosecuted for having evaded the payment of a tax imposed by law and not solely the payment of their own personal income taxes.

Furthermore, following a study of the provision in question, its context and purpose, the Court of Appeal recognized the necessity to prove the element of mens rea. However, in the case at bar, the Court of Appeal decided to deviate from its recent rulings regarding the actus reus of tax evasion. It cited a Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decision and ruled that a conviction of tax evasion does not require the presence of an artifice or a scheme; the mere failure to file an income tax return constitutes tax evasion. However, when faced with a scheme or artifice, the inference of intent can easily be drawn.

The Court of Appeal thus concluded as follows:
« Le sous-paragraphe 239(1)d) est suffisamment précis, à mon avis, pour inclure les actes frauduleux commis volontairement par l'appelant et qui ont eu pour effet de priver l'État de la perception d'un impôt sur le revenu.
Cette interprétation me paraît être en harmonie avec l'économie générale de la loi.  Il est clair que la perception de l'impôt sur le revenu constitue l'objet fondamental de la loi et que les infractions et peines mentionnées à l'article 239 n'ont pour seul but que d'assurer l'application de la loi[14].  
POUR CES MOTIFS, je proposerais de REJETER le pourvoi, de CONFIRMER le jugement de la Cour supérieure et de MAINTENIR la déclaration de culpabilité prononcée par la Cour du Québec. »
Another case that recognized the evolution of the categorization of tax evasion in Québec is Sous-ministre du Revenu c. Bibeau. This time, the appeal was made by the Deputy Minister of Revenue from a judgment that acquitted Bibeau on a charge under s. 62(a) TAA.

The Court of Appeal stated that the use of the words “assents to or acquiesces” in the making of false or deceptive statements, found in s. 62(a) TAA, is an indication of the legislator’s intention to create an offence where wilful intent was needed:
« [4]    CONSIDÉRANT que l’utilisation au paragraphe (a) des mots “consent ou acquiesce à leur énonciation” constitue un indice révélateur de l’intention du législateur de créer une infraction à l’égard de laquelle l’élément intentionnel est requis; »
Furthermore, the Court of Appeal recognized that s. 62(a) TAA should not be read in isolation from the other subparagraphs of s. 62 TAA which all require, in the eyes of the Court, proof of guilty intent. Also, given that all of the offences carried the same sentence, this provided an indication that the legislator intended to designate them as true crimes and not ones of strict liability:
« [5]    CONSIDÉRANT par ailleurs que les autres paragraphes de l’article 62 contiennent soit des indices, soit des indications claires et non équivoques de la nécessité d’une preuve d’intention coupable pour établir chacune des infractions ainsi édictées;
[6]    CONSIDÉRANT qu’entre deux interprétations du paragraphe (a) de l’article 62 de la Loi, il y a lieu de privilégier celle qui n’isole pas ce texte de l’environnement dans lequel le législateur l’a placé;
[7]    CONSIDÉRANT par surcroît que les peines sont identiques pour toutes et chacune des infractions prévues aux divers paragraphes de cet article;
[8]    CONSIDÉRANT que la rigueur de ces peines est un indice additionnel de l’intention du législateur d’édicter des infractions qui n’entrent pas dans la catégorie des infractions de responsabilité stricte; »
For these reasons, the appeal was therefore dismissed.

9.   Québec (Sous-ministre du Revenu) c. Pinto, 2010 QCCQ 8407, AZ-50676634 (CQ, 2010-09-29)
As opposed to the aforementioned Larivière case, in Québec (Sous-ministre du Revenu) c. Pinto, it was the accountant and not the company that was found guilty of tax evasion.

In this case, Pinto was a certified general accountant hired externally by the company Climatisation G.R. inc.  (“G.R.”) to, inter alia, review its balance sheets and to prepare its financial statements. Pinto was accused of making false or misleading statements by producing fake expenditures for G.R. that allowed the latter to claim a reimbursement in taxes.

Pinto purported that he explained to G.R.’s President, Mr. Abergel, that his company had to pay taxes but that Mr. Abergel did not want to. Ultimately, Pinto argued that he did not intend on preventing the government from collecting its taxes and that all he was trying to do was balance the G.R.’s sheets.

Nevertheless, the Court did not believe him. In fact, the two employees working under the orders of Pinto testified that they were specifically instructed by the latter on how to achieve the end goal of Mr. Abergel. It was actually during the audit by Revenue Quebec that these employees were instructed by Pinto to create these false statements:
« [104]   Gladu et Chmielewski affirment que les feuilles d’allocations de dépenses remboursées en espèces produites sous la pièce P-34, ont été préparées, à la demande du défendeur, par elles-mêmes, lors de la vérification par les vérificateurs Fortin et Fontaine.
[105]   Gladu et Chmielewski affirment qu’il n’y avait pas de pièces justificatives pour compléter lesdites feuilles d’allocations de dépenses remboursées en espèces et elles ajoutent qu’elles mettaient des montants à peu près et que le défendeur a donné une sorte d’échelle et ensuite il a indiqué la façon de calculer à ces dernières, par conséquent, lesdits montants indiqués sur lesdites feuilles étaient entièrement inventés.
[…]
[109]   Gladu mentionne que ce n’est pas Abergel qui lui a demandé de remplir les feuilles d’allocations de dépenses remboursées en espèces, mais c’est à la demande du défendeur qu’elles ont fait cela.
[110]   Chmielewski affirme qu’il n’y avait pas de reçu ou de pièces justificatives pour remplir les feuilles d’allocations de dépenses remboursées en espèces et elles étaient faites « juste de façon à ce que ça paraisse réel ».
[111]   Chmielewski mentionne qu’elle restait jusqu’à minuit tous les soirs pour finaliser lesdites feuilles d’allocations remboursées en espèces. »
The Court, in accordance with the now commonly agreed premise that the proof of mens rea is a requirement in tax evasion, considered that the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Pinto voluntarily and knowingly participated in the offences laid against him and he was therefore declared guilty as charged.

We finish this article with the ultimate sanction in cases of tax evasion: prison. As previously stated, although it is rarely applied here in Québec, it is nevertheless reserved for extreme cases, such as Québec (Sous-ministre du Revenu) c. Cun.

The Defendant, Cun, was declared guilty of 24 counts of tax evasion in which she basically evaded $137,013 in Québec sales taxes, $119,535 in GST, and failed to declare up to $1,850,305 in income.

The acts Cun was charged to have committed took place while she was working under the direction of a third party associated with a clothing manufacturing company called “Créations Situ”. She, along with the company in question, were involved in an elaborated and extensive tax fraud scheme. It was never certain whether the monies collected from the tax evasion ever served for personal use by Cun. Nonetheless, the facts of the case unequivocally revealed that $1,850,305 in cash passed through her hands and that she had to know that this money was not being declared to the government. In fact, Cun admitted that she would use this cash to pay the employees of Créations Situ under the table at a rate below the minimum wage. 

At the sentencing hearing, the Court decided that imprisonment was not only appropriate but necessary in the case at bar:
« [46]   Dans un cas de fraude fiscale comme en l’espèce, les objectifs de dénonciation et de dissuasion doivent primer puisqu’il s’agit d’une infraction grave qui constitue un abus de confiance[1].
[47]   Il faut dénoncer le comportement illégal du contribuable qui fraude le système fiscal puisqu’il en découle une injustice envers les autres contribuables qui doivent inévitablement assumer un fardeau plus lourd[2].
[48]   De plus, l'imposition d'une peine d’emprisonnement permettra d’atteindre un autre objectif de l’article 718 C.cr., soit celui d’accorder à la défenderesse la possibilité de prendre conscience de ses responsabilités et des torts qu’elle a causés à la collectivité.
[…]
[51]   Les infractions commises par la défenderesse sont d’une gravité objective et subjective importante, ce qui justifie l'imposition d'une peine plus sévère que les amendes minimales. 
[52]   En assortissant l’article 62 L.M.R. et l’alinéa 327 (1)f) L.T.A. de la possibilité d’une peine d’emprisonnement, les législateurs font ressortir la gravité objective des infractions commises par la défenderesse. C'est d’ailleurs une des seules infractions au Québec pour laquelle une peine d’emprisonnement est prévue.
[53]   Le Tribunal est également d’avis qu’omettre de produire ses déclarations fiscales et participer à l’énonciation de fausses déclarations sont de graves infractions qui brisent le lien de confiance qui existait avec l’État[4]; en percevant les taxes au nom de Créations Situ, la défenderesse agissait à titre de mandataire des autorités fiscales et l’emprisonnement est justifié pour marquer la désapprobation à l’encontre de cet abus de confiance. »
In terms of aggravating factors for sentencing purposes, it appears as though Cun failed to collaborate throughout the course of the investigation; always refusing to provide the names of those who also participated in the tax fraud scheme. Cun also failed to show any signs of remorse.

In light of these factors and more, Cun was convicted and fined a total of $242,498, in addition to a 12-month conditional sentence of imprisonment with a 120-hour community service order. The Court justified its imprisonment sentence as follows:
« [79]   Certes, il n’est pas aisé de dégager des constantes de la jurisprudence précitée. Toutefois, il demeure que dans le cas de fraudes importantes (incluant l’évasion fiscale) comportant notamment les facteurs aggravants que sont la préméditation et la planification, l’abus de confiance, l’absence de remboursement et de collaboration à l’enquête, l’appât du gain, l’appropriation de deniers publics, facteurs tous présents en l’espèce, et par ailleurs pas ou peu de facteurs atténuants, une peine d’emprisonnement peut être imposée même lorsque le défendeur ou l’accusé est sans antécédents judiciaires. 
[80]   Dans de tels cas, il est clair que les objectifs de dissuasion et de dénonciation doivent prévaloir et c’est au moyen de l’imposition d’une peine d’emprisonnement que ce but est atteint. »

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