Grande Prairie restaurateur ordered to serve conditional sentence in million-dollar tax evasion case
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced that Balasem Salame, of Grande Prairie, Alberta, was ordered on January 17, 2020, to serve a conditional sentence of two years less a day, and pay a fine of $747,887. Mr. Salame pleaded guilty on August 6, 2019, to one count of personal income tax evasion, one count of corporate income tax evasion, and one count of goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) evasion, in the Provincial Court of Alberta. In addition to the court imposed fine, Mr. Salame will also have to pay the full amount of tax owing, plus related interest and any penalties assessed by the CRA.
Owner of Twister's Donair, Pasta & Pizza Inc. (formerly 1051342 Alberta Ltd.), Mr. Salame personally oversaw the restaurant's operations and managed its finances. A CRA investigation revealed Mr. Salame failed to report all of the restaurant's income and remit GST/HST for the 2008 to 2013 tax years. Mr. Salame kept two separate bank accounts for the business, but disclosed records for only one of the bank accounts to his accountant, evading close to $400,000 in corporate income tax, and over $250,000 in GST/HST.
The investigation also found Mr. Salame took cash from the restaurant and money from the undisclosed bank account for personal use, including moving the funds offshore. By not reporting the misappropriated funds as personal income, Mr. Salame failed to remit close to $400,000 in personal income tax.
All case-specific information above was obtained from the court records.
Tax evasion is a crime. Falsification of records and claims, wilfully not reporting income, or inflating expenses can lead to criminal charges, prosecution, jail time, and a criminal record. In 2018-2019, there were 22 convictions, with 12 taxpayers sent to jail for a total of 19 years. These individuals were sentenced for wilfully evading payment of $4,179,089 in taxes.
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