$1M fine doubled after sentence appealed by Winnipeg businessman convicted of fraud, tax evasion

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April 20, 2018 (courtesy of cbc.ca) – A Winnipeg businessman convicted of fraud and tax evasion had his fine more than doubled from just over $1 million to more than $2 million earlier this month, after he appealed, seeking a lower sentence.

Jeff Dyck was sentenced to three years in prison in January 2017, after he and partner Neil Friesen pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion for their involvement in a company called One World United Inc.

Dyck had served as the president and sole shareholder of the company, which had participants contribute an amount in cash and, in return, provided false invoices for business losses in amounts greater than the cash contribution.

In addition to their prison sentences, Dyck and Friesen were each ordered to pay two fines — one for $1 million for unpaid income tax and one for just over $88,000 for unremitted GST. Because they didn’t have the money to pay, each man received an extra year on top of his sentence in default.

Dyck, appealed the decision in November 2017. The appeal questioned whether provincial court Judge Kael McKenzie had given enough weight to various pieces of evidence and whether he’d imposed a sentence that was unfit and unduly harsh.

On April 5, Appeal Court Justice Holly Beard said McKenzie hadn’t made a mistake on those grounds — but concluded the Crown had made an error in requesting a fine of $1 million. Supported by justices Diana Cameron and Janice leMaistre, Beard increased the fine to almost $2.4 million — although Dyck still can’t pay it and his one year served in default wasn’t increased.

“We are disappointed. There’s no question about that,” said Jay Prober, who represented Dyck in the Court of Appeal.

$1M fine an error

Prober said his client went into One World United with the “best of intentions.” The appeal had sought house arrest in place of prison time, and Prober said Dyck should be a candidate for the “earliest possible parole.”

In her decision, Beard wrote the sentencing judge had adopted the $1 million fine sought by the Crown, but that was an error.

Both the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act require that the court impose a minimum fine equal to the total amount of taxes that were evaded, Beard wrote. In Dyck’s case, that was $2,366,367.

Beard did set aside the victim surcharge, a monetary penalty that’s automatically imposed on offenders at the time of sentencing to help fund programs and services for victims of crime. The judge wrote it shouldn’t apply in this case.