August 10, 2016 - 1:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - A Kamloops businessman who allegedly fled to Asia for years after being charged with tax evasion could spend up to three months behind bars.
James Alexander Kennedy, 58, has pleaded guilty to collecting more than $65,000 in GST revenue from his company between 1997 and 2006, and in 2008.
Kennedy entered his plea in December of 2010, but failed to show up for his sentencing hearing in May 2011. Five years later in May 2016 he was arrested at Vancouver International Airport.
At the time of the offence, Kennedy was a consultant in the oil fields for pipeline construction. He was hired by companies as a representative to oversee things like construction and environmental impact.
Court heard the last time Kennedy filed a GST return was in 1994.
Kennedy appeared unrepresented in Kamloops Provincial Court today, Aug. 10, blaming his previous lawyer, Don Campbell, and his accountant during the years no returns were made.
Crown prosecutor Anthony Varesi said Kennedy collected $65,109 in GST revenue from his company James Kennedy Enterprises Ltd.
Varesi is asking for Kennedy to spend 90 days in custody and pay 75 per cent of the taxes he evaded, which would be a total of $48,831.
"Honest taxpayers shouldn't have to pay higher taxes for dishonest individuals," Varesi said as he wrapped up his submissions in court.
Judge Roy Dickey gave Kennedy the chance to respond to Varesi's submissions.
"I disagree with all of the circumstances, your honour," Kennedy responded.
He said he had a very good accountant up until she had to retire. Kennedy said the accountant that replaced her was "an imbecile."
"If the accountant didn't have it all done, I didn't pay attention."
Kennedy said he didn't know he did anything wrong and that his lawyer entered a guilty plea for him in December. Kennedy then backtracked saying he had instructed his lawyer to enter the plea to get the charges dealt with.
As for fleeing to Asia, Kennedy said he never tried to avoid being in Canada. He had been working overseas, went to Vietnam and ended up marrying a woman and having a child with her.
"I wasn't aware of all of these charges," Kennedy said. "I didn't know anything."
Kennedy asked Justice Dickey to spare him a jail sentence as it would hinder future job opportunities and lead to loss of income.
Dickey is expected to give his decision by the end of this month.
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