Okeke v. R. - FCA: Trial judge’s finding that no cash donations made supported by evidence

Okeke v. R. - FCA:  Trial judge’s finding that no cash donations made supported by evidence


Okeke v. Canada (November 21, 2016 – 2016 FCA 293, Stratas, Webb, Woods (author) JJ.A.).

Précis:   CRA denied $9,000 in alleged cash charitable donations.  The Tax Court found that the taxpayer had not proven the making of the cash donations and dismissed his appeal.  The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal from the bench holding that there was ample evidence before the Tax Court to support its finding.

Decision:    This case involved an unsuccessful attempt to attack the findings of fact in the Tax Court:

[4]               In the Tax Court, Justice Valerie Miller (the trial judge) dismissed the appeal on two grounds. First, she concluded that the evidence did not support that cash donations were made. Second, she found that the tax receipts for these donations did not satisfy the requirements of section 3501 of the Income Tax Regulations, C.R.C. c. 945.

[5]               In our view, the trial judge made no reviewable error, here palpable and overriding error, in her conclusion that Mr. Okeke did not sufficiently establish that the purported cash donations were made. There is ample support for this conclusion.

[6]               In this Court, Mr. Okeke submits that the cash donations are supported by letters written by the founder of the charities, Daniel Mokwe.

[7]                The trial judge found that the details in Mr. Mokwe’s letters were not reliable. Mr. Okeke submits that the trial judge made an error in this conclusion by relying on a fact which was not supported by the evidence that the charities did not have records for 2008 at the relevant time.

[8]               The problem with this submission is that even if there was not clear evidence on the existence of such records, there was ample other evidence to support the trial judge’s finding that statements by Mr. Mokwe were not reliable.

[9]               In particular, the evidence reveals that the charities had falsified bank statements that were given to the CRA. In addition, the charities issued donation receipts for amounts that wildly exceeded the charities’ bank deposits. In this regard, the bank deposits for several years were for an aggregate amount of only $12,000 and yet the donation receipts issued by the charities for the same period were for a total of $7.8 million.

[10]           Accordingly, there is ample support for the trial judge’s conclusion that statements by Mr. Mokwe are not reliable.

[11]           In light of our conclusion that the trial judge made no reviewable error concerning the $9,000 donations, it is not necessary that we consider the second issue which is whether the tax receipts are deficient. We express no comment on it. 

As a result the appeal was dismissed from the bench with costs.