Canada finance minister did not benefit from insider information: probe

Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks to journalists on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau did not benefit from insider information when he sold shares in his company, according to the results of an investigation, putting an end to a case that caused the government grief last year.

Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson dismissed opposition allegations that Morneau was guilty of a conflict of interest when he sold shares in family firm Morneau Shepell Inc in late November 2015, a week before Ottawa formally announced a hike in taxes for high earners such as himself.

In a letter to Morneau dated Jan. 5, Dawson said the Liberal government had made clear in early November 2015 that the tax hike was coming, weeks before he sold the shares.

This ruled out the possibility he had taken advantage of insider information, she added.

Morneau spokeswoman Chloe Luciani-Girouard released the letter on Monday and said the minister was pleased.

Questions about Morneau’s assets dogged him for months last year, threatening at one point to do serious damage to the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In October, Morneau said he would place his assets in a blind trust and divest all his stock in the family business. His announcement followed weeks of backlash over a government attempt to reform small business taxes.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Susan Thomas