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Innocent companies paying for criminals, a new recurring theme

Once thing frustrates me more and more: the fact that in Québec, the government is starting to act against innocent companies for the actions of either clients or sub-contractors they had no recourse against.

Québec Fonte

Sylvain Savard was the owner of a company, Québec Fonte, which specialized in buying precious metals and made 16 millions dollars in revenues in 2011 doing it.

He was then visited by Revenue Québec to explain that he had to pay “right now” over 4 million dollars in unpaid sales taxes. You can read about it in French here

As it turned out, it’s not money his company personally owed to the government, but rather, money 15 of his numerous sub-contractors didn’t pay to the government.

Sylvain Savard had taken the precaution of checking if each of them actually paid their taxes and even asked from a few of them a receipt of such, a measure which made him lose honest sub-contractors who refused to comply while the crooked one simply made fake receipts.

As such, his company had to pay 4 millions dollars for money he didn’t defraud, which he had no control over and which his company had nothing directly to do with it.

But since most of these companies had gone bankrupt already, the government went toward him instead, even if he was innocent.

Furthermore, under the current laws, he cannot even sue these sub-contractors because they don’t owe him anything, only the government!

Buananotte

The Buananotte restaurant and nightclub is one of the most popular in Montreal and yet, the police is trying to close them down. The reason is that it is frequented by gang members, many of which are on parole and forbidden to be in bars. You can read more here.

The owner, Massimo Lecas explained notably that as a bar owner, not only does he have no idea who is on parole, but on top of that, he is not legally allowed to discriminate or refuse service against customers.

And yet, as cited in the article above:

Lecas said that in previous meetings with the police department’s morality squad, officers said it is up to restaurant owners to throw out customers who are members of gangs or are linked to organized crime.

CTV Montréal, September 8th 2015

But if the law forbids him for throwing patrons without a valid reason and if he doesn’t have access to the list of members of gangs, how would he be able to throw out those customers?

This is equally ridiculous! A compromise was eventually made after this article was published and the Buananotte will receive from the police a binder of the people that are not allowed to get into his resto-bar.

But he was almost shut down for 40 days before the compromised was reached…

Anthony Scissons

Anthony is a farmer in Ontario who was accused of having operated a slaughterhouse without a permit and of having sold and transported non-inspected meat.

The fact from the point of view of the government are these:

    • Mr Anthony Scissons sold on October 26th 2012 from his farm 3 sheep to Muslim men
    • The 3 sheep were slaughtered on the farm property without permit, and thus, became meat
    • The meat was transported off the property without having been inspected.
    • As a result, Mr Anthony Scissons is guilty

However, the situation is a little more complex:

    • The 3 Muslims clients explained to the court that it is them who did the slaughter without consulting the farmer
    • They did so to honor the Muslim ritual prescribed for Aïd Al-Ahda celebration
    • The farmer explained that he didn’t supply any tools or building
    • The farmer also explained that he didn’t agree to the ritual and wasn’t asked permission

The result: The farmer was found guilty in March 2015 and had to pay the $1250 fine because the actions occurred on his farm. The three men were not accused of anything, despite being guilty of the acts and admitting in court.

Conclusion

There used to be rule in law that you cannot be found guilty for the action of others.

It appears that more and more however, this simple rule is being erased and instead, when the government wants to sue someone and is unwilling to go after the real criminal, it instead goes against a scapegoat.

But the most worrying is that each of these cases causes more jurisprudence in favor of going against innocent people, and that scares the shit out of me...

After all, if one of my clients defrauds the government with his company, could I be liable? Could you be liable in your line of business?

In the past, to avoid jail or fines you simply had to avoid breaking the law, but none of these 3 people broke the law, they just did business with people who did and were sued instead of the real criminals.

 

 

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