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Canada

Former CRA auditor jailed and fined $100,000 in bribery case

A former Canada Revenue Agency auditor who pocketed $100,000 in bribes has been sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay a fine for the same amount.

Nicola Iammarrone, 59, was sentenced at the Montreal courthouse Tuesday. He had pleaded guilty to two counts of bribery while working for the agency between 2002 and 2008.

“When the reputation of an institution such as the CRA is tarnished by corruption within its ranks,” Quebec Court Judge Lori Renée Weitzman wrote in her decision, “the loss suffered by society as a whole is not only financial but involves the corrosion of public confidence in our government institutions.”

Iammarrone worked for the CRA for 20 years with no disciplinary issues to his name. The charges against him stem from a Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation launched following an internal search conducted at the agency in 2009.

Iammarrone “made a reasoned decision to cheat the system,” Weitzman ruled, in accepting bribes from two companies: Technnospec and Les Industries Tulyons.

In the first case, the company filed late returns and owed $310,000 in penalties and interest. But after a fraudulent audit performed by Iammarrone, its fortunes had been reversed: instead of owing the agency money, it was now owed $357,000.

Iammarrone was paid a $50,000 bribe for his work.

In the second case, Iammarrone received $250,000 in bribes after being approached by a company that had never filed tax returns. He pocketed $50,000, but what happened to the rest of the money was never disclosed, the judgment notes.

The defence and Crown agreed Iammarrone should pay a $100,000 fine and receive a two-year sentence, but the defence had argued he should be allowed to serve it at home. The judge sided with the Crown’s suggestion of a prison term.

Weitzman noted the crimes were planned and deliberate, took place over several years and were committed by someone who used his position of trust to defraud the government.

Iammarrone, Weitzman noted, was fuelled by greed and offended for the second time “in a file where the stakes were higher, and where he asked for over four times as much money as a payout.”

Iammarrone was fired from the CRA after being charged in the case. Dressed all in black in the courtroom Tuesday, he did not visibly react when he learned his sentence. He was handcuffed and led to detention.

“It cannot be overstated,” Weitzman ruled, “that the proper working of our democratic society relies on a robust, fair and transparent system of taxation that can rely on public officers with undisputed integrity.”

jfeith@postmedia.com

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