Hundreds may lose Canadian citizenship, resident status because of one corrupt immigration consultant
Friday, Dec. 2, 2016
When B.C. immigration consultant Xun “Sunny” Wang was convicted last fall of a massive fraud scheme, a gargantuan task still lay ahead for border and immigration officials — sort through his client list of 1,600 people to determine if they should be penalized.
This week, the Canada Border Services Agency provided an update on what it described as the “single largest investigation of immigration fraud” in the province’s history: Officers have detected misrepresentation in about 320 cases and have referred them to immigration authorities who have the power to revoke citizenship or permanent resident status, and more than 500 cases are still being investigated. An additional 136 individuals have voluntarily given up their permanent resident status.
Some of Wang’s clients, however, are girding for a fight. The Immigration and Refugee Board has so far issued exclusion orders against 43 permanent residents, effectively banning them from Canada for five years, but many are appealing on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, insisting they had no knowledge of Wang’s deception and were victims themselves.
Officials with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada were not able to say if they had revoked the citizenship of any of Wang’s clients because they do not track the outcomes of cases related to a large-scale investigation.
A B.C. court heard last year that Wang and his associates at New Can Consultants had altered clients’ passports to make it appear they had spent the requisite number of days in Canada to obtain citizenship or permanent residency when, in fact, they had not.
They achieved this by sending passports to associates in China where fake exit and entry stamps were added. They also used real Canadian addresses — even Wang’s home address in Richmond, B.C. — on clients’ application forms to further the impression they were living in Canada.
In some instances, they created fake letters of employment for clients, using the names of one of Wang’s many companies that seemingly existed for no other reason than to assist with the con.
Wang, who made at least $10 million, was sentenced in October 2015 to seven years in prison and fined more than $900,000, one of the most severe penalties handed down for this type of crime. Three of his associates are due for sentencing in January. Six more individuals have cases before the courts.
Meanwhile, CBSA says it has referred 120 of Wang’s clients to the Immigration and Refugee Board, which reviews permanent residents, and about 200 clients to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, which reviews citizens.
According to an IRB decision released in September, one of Wang’s clients, Zhou Hua Biao, a Chinese citizen, insisted he had no knowledge of the misrepresentations on his permanent resident renewal forms.
Zhou arrived in Canada with his wife and son in June 2008. CBSA determined that Zhou had only spent 162 days in Canada from 2008 to July 2013, when his permanent resident card was up for renewal, well short of the 730-day requirement.
Yet Zhou’s renewal application indicated that Zhou had been in Canada for 831 days.
The IRB hearing was told that Zhou had found Wang through a print ad and that he believed Wang to be a lawyer. Zhou said he signed the back of a blank renewal application because he had to return to China and did not see the completed application before it was sent in.
Zhou asked that IRB grant him an “innocent misrepresentation exemption.”
But IRB adjudicator Marc Tessler was not sympathetic. Exceptions to the law are very narrow and Zhou failed to take the reasonable precaution of reviewing the application before it was submitted, he said before issuing an exclusion order.
Lu Chan, Zhou’s lawyer, maintained this week that Zhou and many of Wang’s other clients were duped by Wang.
“They trusted him in the sense they trusted a lawyer,” Chan said. “They were cheated by Mr. Wang.”
Chan also faulted the federal government for not doing enough to monitor and go after unlicensed consultants — Wang was among them — who have been known to use false advertising to lure customers.
At an IRB admissibility hearing this week, another one of Wang’s clients, Zuo Zhuo, actually conceded the government’s allegations against him — that his permanent resident application included a “false work history” and that the company he said he worked for, Pacific Glory Enterprises, was, in fact, a “shell company” set up by Wang.
But after an IRB adjudicator issued an exclusion order against Zuo, his lawyer signalled that he would be filing an appeal.
Outside the hearing, Peter Larlee said that Zuo had also been duped by Wang, but there was no point arguing that at this stage because the law has been interpreted so strictly.
However, at the appeal stage, he will be able to make broader arguments on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
But shouldn’t his client ought to have reviewed the application before it was filed?
“That is a perfectly valid argument,” Larlee said. “(But) I was in the bank the other day and was signing documents for a home equity loan. Did I read every line? … I didn’t read it. So we all do it,” he said.
“You’re paying someone for a service, you expect them to do it properly and do it legitimately.”