Merchants suing CBC over offshore account reports

Saskatchewan lawyer Tony Merchant and his wife Senator Pana Merchant are suing the CBC for libel after the broadcaster ran stories accusing Tony of depositing $1.7 million into offshore accounts.

The statement of claim, filed by Toronto law firm Cambridge LLP on April 15 in the Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench, alleges the CBC reports will cause the Merchants and the Merchant Law Group LLP “irreparable” damage, reports the Regina Leader-Post.

“The defamation of character, libel, slander, other harm, and damages including reputational damages caused by the defendants’ stories regarding the plaintiffs was negative and costly,” the claim said.

Resulting from a massive leak of offshore financial data shared exclusively in Canada with CBC News, the broadcaster reported Tony Merchant started moving money into offshore “tax havens” in the Cook Islands and Bermuda in 1998 and his wife and the couple’s three sons are beneficiaries of the accounts.

According to the Post, the claim accuses the CBC of fixating on the Merchants in reporting on leaked documents that connect 450 Canadians to offshore accounts.

“The defendants’ single minded devotion to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars producing stories related only to the plaintiffs demonstrates . . . a malicious intention on their part to sensationalize, defame, libel, slander, and commit the maximum amount of harm on the plaintiffs, their reputations, and their business and professional interests,” the claim stated.

The claim, which seeks general, special, aggravated, exemplary, and punitive damages, also accuses the CBC of defaming the Merchants by refusing to share the documents it obtained regarding the offshore accounts with the Canada Revenue Agency, the Post reports.

Tony Merchant could not be reached for comment.

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