Poilievre asks CRA to audit Trudeau Foundation over donations connected to foreign governments | CBC News


Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has written to the Canada Revenue Agency asking it to “launch a fulsome audit” of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation with a focus on donations the charity received from foreign governments.

The letter comes as sources with knowledge of the situation tell Radio-Canada a controversial $140,000 donation given to the charity by two men with links to the Chinese government has been returned. 

In the letter, Poilievre asks the CRA to perform the audit “with a particular focus on the donation that has been subject to public reporting, as well as any other financial transactions that may have a connection to foreign governments or their associates.”

The request comes after the Globe and Mail reported last month that Zhang Bin and Niu Gensheng — businessmen later identified by the newspaper as linked to the Chinese government — pledged in 2016 to donate $200,000 to the foundation.

The foundation later said it only received $140,000 of the promised amount, in the form of two $70,000 payments that came in the name of a corporation.

Poilievre’s letter to the CRA also asks that any evidence “uncovered in such an audit that potentially relates to attempted interference by foreign actors” be forwarded to Canada’s security and intelligence services. 

The letter says that the $140,000 donation, made without identifying the donors’ links to the Chinese government, raises serious questions about “foreign influence peddling, attempts to hide the true source of the funds and, potentially, fraud.”

The letter also asks that any evidence be preserved for a possible public inquiry.

Donation finally returned

Shortly after the businessmen’s link with China emerged last month, foundation president Pascale Fournier said the foundation had reimbursed the full amount of the donation.

But Radio-Canada confirmed that, as recently as early this week, the money had yet to be returned because no one was able to accept the cheque on behalf of the corporation.

The foundation said in a media statement late Wednesday that “a reimbursement cheque was issued in the name of the donor which made those payments and to which CRA charitable receipts were issued.”

The Radio-Canada source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Friday that the $140,000 has now been deposited into the account of one of the two businessmen.

Calling in the auditor general

The foundation itself on Friday also wrote a letter to Auditor General of Canada Karen Hogan asking her office to investigate “all aspects concerning the receipt and handling of these donations by the foundation” and promising the foundation will “eagerly cooperate fully with such an investigation.”

Earlier this week, the foundation also said that its board would launch a separate, independent review of its acceptance of the $140,000 donation.

It said that the review would be conducted by an accounting firm overseen by a law firm, and that the firms would have no prior involvement with the foundation.

Earlier this week, Fournier and the foundation’s board of directors resigned en masse, saying in a media statement that the controversy over the donation “has put a great deal of pressure on the foundation’s management and volunteer board of directors, as well as on our staff and our community.”

“The circumstances created by the politicization of the foundation have made it impossible to continue with the status quo and the volunteer board of directors has resigned,” the foundation said in its statement.

Sources told Radio Canada that the mass resignation stemmed from members of the board wanting the foundation to do more to verify the provenance of donations.

On Wednesday, the controversy followed the prime minister to Winnipeg, where he met with students.

Trudeau has so far distanced himself from the foundation and from the controversy.

“It has been 10 years that I have had no involvement at all with the foundation that carries my father’s name,” he told a press conference. “I think it’s important that the foundation itself answer these questions and reflects on how it can continue doing the important work that it does.”


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *