Eastern Ontario resident sentenced for fraudulent GST/HST refunds, Scientific Research and Experimental Development claims

October 19, 2022

Ottawa, Ontario

Canada Revenue Agency

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced today that Christopher Bernier, also known as Christopher-Maik Bernier (Bernier), of McDonalds Corners, Ontario, was sentenced on October 6, 2022, to a conditional jail sentence of 12 months, including 6 months of house arrest, and 70 hours of community service for federal tax offences under the Excise Tax Act. In addition, he received 12 months of probation for provincial offences under the Provincial Offences Act of Ontario to run concurrently with the conditional jail sentence. Mr. Bernier was also fined a total of $190,100 representing 50% of the amount of Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) and the Ontario Innovation Tax Credits (OITC) claims he obtained or tried to obtain as refunds.

The OITC is a refundable tax credit for qualified expenditures on Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) performed in Ontario. Mr. Bernier pleaded guilty on September 28, 2022, in the Ottawa Court House to three counts of unlawfully making false or deceptive statements and obtaining or attempting to obtain GST/HST refunds of $160,050 under the Excise Tax Act, and to three counts of making false or deceptive statements and obtaining or attempting to obtain OITC refunds of $220,150 under the Taxation Act of Ontario.

A CRA investigation revealed that Mr. Bernier, as shareholder and senior officer of American Domain Names LLC (ADN) and Maple Names Inc. (MNI), filed false GST/HST returns, corporate income tax returns and SR&ED claims. Between July 2013 and July 2015, Mr. Bernier also submitted false documents in order to receive or attempt to receive a total of $160,050 in GST/HST refunds and $220,150 in OITC refunds to which he was not entitled. Mr. Bernier claimed that MNI was developing the integration of computers and mobile devices into various household devices, and that ADN was developing encryption hardware for sale to internet service providers. When the CRA asked for documentation to support these claims, Mr. Bernier provided false information and submitted fabricated invoices. 

All case-specific information above was obtained from the court records.

The CRA would like to thank the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for their cooperation in this case.

Tax evasion is a crime. Falsifying records and claims, wilfully not reporting income, or inflating expenses can lead to criminal charges, prosecution, jail time, and a criminal record. From April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, there were 23 convictions, with court imposed fines totalling $3,303,110. These taxpayers were sentenced for wilfully evading payment amounts totalling $4,407,386 in federal tax. Out of the 23 convictions, 10 individuals were sent to jail for a total of 15.3 years.  

The CRA is dedicated to maintaining the integrity of Canada’s tax system, thereby contributing to the social and economic well-being of Canadians. The CRA continues to aggressively pursue tax evasion, and false claims with all the tools available to it. The CRA works to make sure that individuals and businesses report all income earned and only claim benefits to which they are entitled, so that important benefit programs can be administered to those who need them. Any individual or business who underreports income or claims losses or benefits to which they are not entitled may have to repay the benefit amounts and may be subject to other possible action. 

The CRA has set up a free subscription service to help Canadians stay current on the CRA’s enforcement efforts.

Associated Links

Leads Program
Voluntary Disclosures Program

Contacts

Alan Murray
Communications Manager
647-242-2956
Alan.Murray2@cra-arc.gc.ca

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