Class-action suit filed over $11.9 million Chinese immigration case
A Chinese immigration services company has filed a class-action lawsuit against a company with head offices in Richmond after about 90 people from China who paid a total of $11.9 million were denied entry to Canada.
Ningbo Zhelun Overseas Immigration Service Co. Ltd. says in the lawsuit that in 2012 it established a business relationship with USA-Canada International Investment Inc. (UCII) to help “client-investors” from China to come to Canada.
The Chinese firm, located in the city of Ningbo south of Shanghai, says that in late 2013 UCII advised them that a program in Yukon to attract skilled international entrepreneurs was an “easy” program through which potential client-investors could immigrate compared to other programs.
It says that between late 2014 and the summer of 2015, Zhelun promoted the Yukon Business Nominee Program and recruited about 90 applicants in China and that Zhelun and its clients paid a total of $11,900,718 to UCII.
Though UCII assured them there would not be any assessment interviews conducted by Canadian officials on the applicants, Zhelun says that in June 2015, it received correspondence from Canadian immigration services requesting multiple clients to come in for screening interviews in Hong Kong.
Zhelun says it was assured there was no cause for alarm about the interview requests and in July 2015, about 60 applicants showed up in Hong Kong and were subjected to interviews.
It says the clients who were interviewed were told they were not successful and that a certificate of nomination allegedly issued by Yukon government was false or invalid.
Permanent-residence cards for Zhelun’s clients were denied and they were told they would not be able to re-apply to immigrate or visit Canada for a five-year period, says the suit.
“The applicants who attended the scheduled interviews were humiliated and embarrassed as a result of the failed Hong Kong interviews and failing to obtain their documents that would lead to their permanent residency cards or visas.”
When Zhelun approached UCII about the problems the clients had experienced, it was told the matter was being looked into and that letters were being sent to Yukon government, says the lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court.
Zhelun sought to recover the nearly $12 million and contacted UCII frequently, and the clients were “deeply concerned” about their investments, says the suit.
But while UCII said it recognized that the money was returnable in the event it was not successful in obtaining the permanent-residence cards, UCII said it was not able to repay the amounts as they had been invested in various businesses, says the lawsuit.
“Zhelun has, on multiple occasions, demanded repayment of Zhelun’s investment … As a result of UCII’s actions, Zhelun and its clients have incurred and will continue to incur significant expenses and damages.”
The suit says it is “understood” that last summer the Canada Border Services Agency and/or the RCMP attended the Richmond offices of UCII, an immigration consultant and a lawyer involved in the case to “investigate details and confiscate materials relating to the herein claim.”
In an email, the RCMP said it does not divulge whether investigations are ongoing unless charges are laid or if public information is sought in order to advance an investigation, or should investigative findings indicate a public safety risk. CBSA could not be reached.
The plaintiffs, who filed the lawsuit in the form of a class-action proceeding on behalf of Zhelun’s clients, are seeking that the nearly $12 million be repaid.
They also want an accounting of any and all financial transactions related to the Zhelun investments and an order restraining the defendants from dealing with or disposing of assets and properties wherein Zhelun’s investment proceeds were used or invested.
The company is also seeking unspecified general and special damages.
No response has yet been filed to the lawsuit, which contains allegations that have not been proven in court. UCII could not be reached for comment.