New trial ordered for Surrey limo driver acquitted of tax charges

Jaswinder Sedhu found not guilty in May, but decision overturned this week in B.C. Supreme Court.

A man who was acquitted of 11 charges of failing to comply with notices to file tax returns for his Surrey limousine company will now face a new trial.

An earlier provincial court judgement that found Jasvinder Sedhu not guilty was overturned Dec. 17 in B.C. Supreme Court.

Sedhu, who was sole director of Baja Limousine Ltd. between 1998 and 2009, was served with 11 notices from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to file his tax returns in October 2009, after it was discovered he hadn’t filed taxes for 10 years. He was told there would be no extensions and after 90 days had passed, the CRA concluded he had not filed.

He was criminally charged in July 2011.

Three months later, most of the tax returns were filed, and as of May 2013 (when he was found not guilty), all of the tax returns had been filed.

The provincial court judge’s initial ruling acquitted Sedhu on the basis that the 90-day notice issued by the CRA wasn’t a “reasonable” amount of time to comply.

The Crown appealed the decision, arguing the trial judge erred in finding the Crown had to prove the given time frame was reasonable.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice James Williams granted the appeal, ordering a retrial.

He noted the Crown was not required to prove the time frame was reasonable, and was only required to prove the identity of the accused, the jurisdiction, service of the notice and failure of the accused to comply.

“It is an error of law to hold that the ‘reasonableness of time’ is an essential element of the offence that the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” wrote Williams in his decision. “This was the basis of the trial judge’s decision in the Provincial Court. The finding was incorrect and the decision cannot be upheld.”


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