Vancouver consultant accused of defrauding Chinese immigrants sponsored lunch with Justin Trudeau
Sam Cooper, Postmedia News
Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016
A few months before being elected prime minister, Justin Trudeau was the featured speaker at a Richmond business lunch sponsored by a company of a Vancouver immigration consultant accused of defrauding Chinese immigrant investors.
Paul Oei, accused Monday by the B.C. Securities Commission of perpetrating “a fraudulent scheme” through several investment companies, is the sole director of Organic Eco-Centre Corp. The company, which was named in the Securities Commission allegations, is the listed sponsor for a July 2015 Richmond Chamber of Commerce lunch featuring Trudeau.
Photos obtained by Postmedia show Paul Oei breaking bread with Trudeau at the luncheon’s head table, and introducing Trudeau to the sold-out crowd. Oei and Trudeau embraced before the future prime minister addressed a packed room of Richmond business and political figures. Attendees included B.C. Liberal MLA John Yap and key Richmond political fundraisers such as Cindy Chan and Pius Chan.
The luncheon at Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel — tickets were $90 for non-Chamber members — was called a “non-partisan” event.
It was titled a “Luncheon with Justin Trudeau — Real Change: Restoring Fairness and Growth to the Middle Class.”
The message might have been lost on some in the crowd. Event sponsor Paul Oei has been featured in The New Yorker as a “fixer” and “unofficial ambassador” for ultra-wealthy Chinese clients looking for advice on how to immigrate to B.C. and invest their riches. Oei and his wife own six luxury vehicles and four homes, B.C. lending and title documents show.
In civil court cases that are separate from, but related to, the Securities Commission accusations, investors allege Oei and his wife, Loretta Lai, led them to believe investments in Fraser Valley recycling plant company Cascade were supported by the B.C. government and would let the investors apply for resident status in Canada.
Instead, the Commission alleged, Oei diverted $6.9 million of the $13.3 million raised for Cascade into his personal bank accounts, using that to fund his immigration-investment business, Canadian Manu, and to make charity donations, rent luxury cars and pay credit card bills.
It alleges that between June and August 2013, Oei told Cascade investors they could roll their Cascade funds into a new company called Organic Eco-Centre Corp., with a 15 per cent “top-up.”
“Oei did not disclose to the Cascade investors that he had given Cascade less than half of the money he raised from investors,” the Commission alleged. “He raised an additional $202,000 from 18 Cascade investors.”
The Securities Commission allegations have not been proven and, in the related lawsuits filed against them, Oei and Lai have denied any wrongdoing.
Oei and Lai have donated $8,477 to the federal Liberal party since 2014.
Party spokesman Braeden Caley was asked if Trudeau’s party would return Oei’s donations, and if the party is concerned that Trudeau spoke at an event sponsored by Oei and Organic-Eco Centre.
Caley did not answer the questions about returning Oei’s donations.
“As one would expect, Mr. Trudeau and Liberal members of Parliament have their photo taken with thousands of Canadians each year in a wide variety of communities across Canada,” Caley wrote in an emailed response.