Len Barrie waited two years for the chance to say his piece. On the second day of his trial on tax charges, he made the most of it.
The former CEO of Bear Mountain Master Partnership took the stand in his own defence Thursday and made it clear that while he was there to fight two counts of failing to file tax returns, his main goal was to clear the air.
“The reason I’m doing this, regardless of how it turns out, is because of that headline,” Barrie said when asked about a December 2010 story that appeared on timescolonist.com with a headline suggesting Barrie faced charges of tax evasion rather than failing to comply with the Tax Act by not filing tax returns.
“Tax evasion isn’t even on the same planet as failing to comply [with the Tax Act]. I want to get the truth out there,” said Barrie.
Barrie is charged with failing to file tax returns in 2008 and 2009 for Bear Mountain Projects Ltd. Barrie has pleaded not guilty, and has pointed out the returns have since been filed.
During his nearly two hours on the stand, Barrie repeatedly, and in a rapid-fire style, pointed out what he had been saying since the charges were filed in 2010 — that he could not have filed the returns on behalf of the company as it was under the control of the Bear Mountain Master Partnership, which was in the control of a receiver as it went through the Companies Creditor’s Arrangement Act process.
Barrie told the court that Canada Revenue Agency came to him in 2010 with requests for 24 tax filings from nine companies. Barrie told the court he complied by filing 22 of those before an August 2010 deadline, but could not file on behalf of Bear Mountain Projects.
“If I had known they weren’t going to file it, I would have [pushed to get it done],” he told the court. Barrie noted he did push the receiver to make the filings a priority after the headline suggesting tax evasion.
“It’s a shame, it shouldn’t have happened ... you don’t go through and do the 22 and not do two others, it makes no sense.”
Defence lawyer Paul Waller had to ask his client to speak slower several times as Barrie rushed to give his side of the story.
Barrie became frustrated under cross examination by the Crown, and several times asked Crown prosecutor Cristin Peel what she would have had him do to file the returns. She reminded Barrie it was her job to ask the questions.
Several times under questioning from Peel, Barrie took the opportunity to expand his answers to include reiterating his position that filing for Bear Mountain Projects was not his responsibility and that, if he had been able to get the documents necessary from the receiver, he would have.
Barrie faces a minimum fine of $1,000 per count if found guilty.
The trial continues next week.
© Copyright 2013