The Canadians who found themselves linked to Panama Papers

Image copyright Planet Money screenshot Image caption The Canadian Government has asked the Panama Papers investigative journalists to look at data around some Panama-registered companies

David Suzuki’s recently launched TV show on public issues started by incorporating Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.

During a session with Mr Suzuki and his audience in May, Mr Trudeau said his wife’s business dealings had been disclosed after he had gone home to Toronto.

Mrs Trudeau’s company Epoch Equity Partners, which she set up in 2011, has also been reported as making arrangements to avoid paying tax.

It also holds shares in Holland’s Royal Bank of Canada – and Canada’s tax on dividends is the highest of any developed country.

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An offshore mining company owned by Mrs Trudeau’s firm has also been named in the so-called Panama Papers – documents relating to 26,065 offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Investigation into potential tax evasion in Iceland

As well as the Prime Minister and his wife, the Panama Papers have linked several other members of Canada’s federal government.

Among the list, obtained from offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca through a now-closed German data leak called the Paradise Papers, are sources for energy, telecoms and mining firms.

The Prime Minister’s office has said it asked the country’s information commissioner, Suzanne Legault, to find out how the documents related to Canada were obtained.

In a new development, Mrs Trudeau’s adviser, Wayne Smith, has submitted his resignation, citing “personal reasons”.

Neville Orr, the lawyer who successfully defended the prime minister on a separate matter, suggested he would have been well-placed to help overcome opposition to the meeting between the Trudeaus and the Canadian science broadcaster:

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The Canadian Parliament will sit through the summer to discuss the matter of offshore tax havens

In a statement, Mr Orr said the Trudeaus requested that he help out with the meeting as a personal matter. He had also received a letter from Bill Crosbie, Mr Trudeau’s former chief of staff, requesting “personal assistance.”

Mr Orr added that he had no information about the three people, which he said was offered at the meeting, concerning Mr Trudeau’s own offshore investments, which he had disclosed in the past.

Speaking about Mrs Gregoire Trudeau’s business dealings, Mr Trudeau said: “She was not in any way, shape or form involved in an effort to hide or obscure these transactions.”

As part of the “Audit the G7” coalition in June, Mr Trudeau promised that “our financial institutions must be transparent, their disclosures will be easy to find and they will be subject to credible audits.”

A leaflet is to be sent to all Canadians urging them to learn more about how offshore tax havens affect their financial prospects.

Will the government do more to link tax havens to both the Canadian and US President Donald Trump?

Along with Britain, the US, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, Canada is participating in a tax information exchange with the US.

The U.S. President has promised to introduce tax reforms to reduce corporate taxes and hike the standard deduction for tax payers.

Some US companies have said their companies are more susceptible to litigation if they don’t pay enough in tax.

U.S. federal court lawsuits relating to trade secrets have been brought against the likes of Apple, Starbucks and Walmart.

Since the Panama Papers were released, the U.S. has questioned the Panama-based services provider, Mossack Fonseca, over its international partnerships and their handling of data.

Prime Minister Trudeau has vowed to use any legal mechanisms to crack down on tax havens, but has not defined what those avenues would be.

He has pledged to announce a strategy by the end of the summer recess, as called for by his Liberal Party.

Got more questions about Panama Papers? Get in touch: Brianna Moore, iProspect

Miles Gosnell, Editor-in-Chief

Richard Pugh, publisher

Dr Alexander Kantor, Founder & CEO, Promethean

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Tom Burgess, Online Editor

Julian Hack, Political Editor

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