Fired CRA Employee Denied Access to Tax Records… Duh!

A Superior Court judge has dismissed the application of a former Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employee requesting the CRA produce various third-party records for use in his defence.

Christopher Casola of Sudbury faces charges including breach of trust by accessing taxpayer information other than for the public good, fraudulently accessing a CRA computer, as well as two counts that allege that the breach of trust and unauthorized use of a computer were done for the benefit of The Bacchus Motorcycle Club, and he faces eight counts involving several weapons offences, including possession of an SKS assault rifle, alleged to have occurred in 2016.

The CRA will fire, and prosecute those who access information which they are not entitled to, and because the CRA’s computer system tracks all accesses (including date, time, and how long they were there) it can be a very easy case to make.

Oddly, in his defense, the accused requested access to various CRA records, including the mainframe computer that contains the records of all individuals who have filed a tax return; the CRA Matching Action Review System (MARS) database accessible on servers between March 26, 2014, and Jan. 7, 2015; a data dump of the entire Notepad option in the MARS database; as well as what is referred to as the “entire CRA workload audit trail” in connection with the review of the accused’s work that was undertaken by the CRA after security concerns became known.

In a decision delivered July 11, Justice Dan Cornell wrote that the applicant had stated the records were necessary to duplicate the CRA’s internal review, which allegedly indicated Casola, a former assessment processing clerk in the electronic processing and records division at the Sudbury Tax Centre, had accessed the files of several individuals with alleged connections to another motorcycle club, thereby contravening the agency’s code of ethics and conduct.

Justice Cornell accepted the Crown’s argument, however, that the applicant did not articulate why they required entries for dates other that those when the alleged unauthorized access occurred.

“Despite being asked on more than one occasion to provide a reason for the requests that have been made, the only answer that was given is that the accused ‘wants to recreate the CRA process to double check the results to see if the results are accurate’,” the justice wrote. “This is not sufficient to establish that the information that is being sought is likely relevant to an issue that may arise at trial.

“The applicant did not provide an expert report, or for that matter, outline any possible concerns about the accuracy of the information that was provided or to raise questions about the process that was followed by the CRA during the review of the CRA records. In the end, all that was put forward in support of the request for the production of third party records were vague assertions that there was a problem with the results of the searches that had been undertaken.”

Those “vague assertions” amount to nothing more than “sheer speculation,” Cornell wrote, and “fall far short of satisfying the onus that lies upon the applicant to establish that such third party records should be produced in order to permit the accused to make full answer and defence.”

“In view of the fact that I have determined that the information sought is not likely relevant to an issue at trial or the competence of a witness to testify, I need not attempt to balance competing privacy interests of those who would be affected by disclosure against the accused’s right to be able to make full answer and defence.”

The accused could have requested a trail of his accesses through the Access to Information program available to all CRA employees and every Canadian Citizen.

 

If you would like, you can read the full decision, here; www.canlii.ca/t/hszmv.

 

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