KPMG Testifies at Finance Committee: Will MPs Get Answers Canadians Need to Know?

On Tuesday May 3, the former head of Global Tax for KPMG will appear before the House of Commons Finance Committee to answer questions about the firm's Isle of Man tax haven scheme and its relationship with senior members of the Canada Revenue Agency.

Greg Wiebe, a career KPMGer who is now a full partner in the $50Billion company, is scheduled to appear at 11 am Eastern Time. The proceedings will be streamed on the CPAC website here or on your television. 

The Finance Committee took the step of calling Wiebe in as part of its investigations into how the CRA is handling tax avoidance and evasion.  News stories abound about secret sweetheart deals and the questionable relationships between senior KPMG and CRA officials which include social gatherings even as the agency was deciding how to prosecute cases that involved KPMG.

But will the committee members ask hard questions? And will they demand the documentation and paper trail that could shine a light on what goes on behind closed doors.   There are more questions about this than they might be able to handle in the two hour allotment... but here's a start:

  • As one of KPMG's most powerful employees, did Wiebe have direct knowledge of the Isle of Man scheme, which promoted tax evasion?
  • Who created the tax scheme? What offices did they operate from?  Who signed off on those plans?
  • Did former members of the Canada Revenue Agency help KPMG design, implement or market that scheme?
  • What was the process by which KPMG got confidentiality agreements for clients who were found guilty of tax evasion?
  • Are there other tax plans marketed by KPMG to its clients that are subject to confidentiality agreements which have not yet been identified or audited by the CRA?
  • How much of KPMG's Canadian tax advisory business depends on set ups in offshore tax havens? 

The committee has the power to demand and view documents pertaining to the case. If they are deemed confidential then members can view them in camera.

Will KPMG's appearance merely be a public relations exercise?  Here's hoping the committee, chaired by MP Wayne Easter, can get to the bottom of this story. It would be a first step in exposing a system that treats big accountancy companies and their wealthy clients very, very  differently.

We'll be tracking the hearing. You can follow along with us and other concerned Canadians  on our Twitter feed.