Ghost Immigrants: Paying for Canadian citizenship – The Fifth Estate

Ghost Immigrants: Paying for Canadian citizenship – The Fifth Estate


[ ♪♪ ] -[ Frèdèric ] Edmonton. Every year, Alberta’s
capital welcomes thousands of immigrants. But in 2010, an ordinary
home caught the attention of citizenship and
immigration officers. This residence seemed to be
attracting a suspiciously high number of Chinese immigrants. Officers found that
during an eight-month period, over 40 newly arrived
Chinese immigrants had reported living here. Officers detected a similar
pattern in other residences in Calgary, Edmonton,
and Richmond, B.C. A lot of the addresses were
repeating over and over again, to you know 10, 20, 30, even up
to 114 different people residing at particular residences. So, which is obviously odd. There was one address in Calgary
that was used over 60 different times and so the, the officers
at immigration, refugee, and citizenship Canada
referred the case on to CBSA for further investigation. -[ Frèdèric ] Officers had
only uncovered the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds more would eventually
be caught in the largest immigration fraud
in Canadian history. When examined at the
Vancouver airport, one of these immigrants
admitted he spent only ten days in Calgary. He said he stayed with a friend
but could not recall his name. Another immigrant, whose
address on file was in Edmonton, admitted to officers she
had never lived in Alberta. She didn’t even recognize
the name of the province. Investigators soon realized all
these immigrants had something in common. They were clients of a Vancouver
immigration consultant, Xun Wang, nicknamed Sunny Wang. [ ♪♪ ] Originally from China, Wang
moved to Vancouver where he founded in 2001 New Can, an
immigration consultancy firm. He had many employees. It was run like a
high-volume consultancy. They had offices in
downtown Vancouver, they had offices in Richmond,
they had offices in China. -[ Frèdèric ] At first,
Wang registered with the Canadian society of
immigration consultants, the professional
regulatory body at the time. But in 2006, he let his
membership lapse and became what’s commonly known
as a ghost consultant. He also wasn’t licensed to
do any of this stuff anyway, so he wasn’t authorized to
be an immigration consultant, never mind an immigration
consultant committing the frauds. -[ Frèdèric ] Ghost
consultant Sunny Wang didn’t operate in the shadows. He openly advertised in
Vancouver’s Chinese language media to immigrants who didn’t
really want to live in Canada. Most immigration fraud typically
you’d think is about people sneaking into the country but
what you’ve got here with wealth migration, is people
actually sneaking out of Canada. -[ Frèdèric ] Ian Young is
the Vancouver correspondent for the South China
Morning Post, a Hong Kong based daily. There’s this Chinese
term “yiminjian”, what “yiminjian” is,
is “immigration jail”. This concept is very,
very well known, because you’ve got a lot of
people who are here in Canada who really don’t necessarily
want to be at least not in the short term. You know, you’ve got jobs
and families and businesses, you know, back in China to run. -[ Frèdèric ] The fraudulent
addresses provided by Sunny Wang created the illusion his clients
where living in Canada when they were actually in China. But stamps in their Chinese
passport left evidence of their long absences
from Canadian soil. The passports were sent off to
one of Mr Wang’s businesses in China and fraudulent stamps were
entered into those passports. Those are fraudulent
entry and exit stamps. So, in the example here, the
stamp on the left shows an arrival date into
China of January 3rd, and on the right, you have it
altered with the 01 is changed to 05, which means the
entry date is now May 3rd. So that would be an
example of where, instead of being
away from Canada, it would appear that
they were inside Canada. -[ Frèdèric ] Several of
Wang’s clients were living in China when the time
came to renew their Canadian permanent
resident card. In many cases, these clients
were required to pick up their new card in person in Canada. Wang had planned every detail. The clients flew
from China to Seattle, in Washington state. They entered Canada at the peace
arch crossing because passports are seldom stamped
at land borders. They flew from Vancouver to
Edmonton or Calgary where Wang’s accomplices picked
them up at the airport. The clients were driven around
the neighbourhood they claimed to live in, so they
could answer questions by immigration officials. It included things like the
schools that the children were attending, the description of
their neighborhood and a general sense of what it meant
to be Canadian as well. So very extensive consulting
and counseling that occurred. -[ Frédéric ] Wang told some
clients they didn’t even need to understand
the questions asked by immigration officials. They could say anything
they wanted in Chinese. It didn’t matter because the
right answers would be provided in translation by
the accomplice. For other clients, Wang offered
an elaborate fake job scheme with bogus Canadian companies. That’s exactly what Chinese
millionaire Xiao Qing Li did to maintain her permanent
residency while living in China. Well, Xiao Qing Li was given
this fabricated job with New Can. She never actually did any work
for them but in the process of that, she gets pays slips
and what have you that make her eligible for the
working poor tax benefit. And she claims that. -[ Frédéric ] For years, the
whole operation ran smoothly. Wang was making a
fortune, raking in over 10 million dollars in total. I mean, the scale and the
brazenness of the operation I think was probably the most
surprising to those of us in the industry, as how
openly it was being done, how many people were involved. They were operating in a way
that either didn’t care or weren’t concerned
of being caught. -[ Frédéric ] But Wang’s
employees became worried when they noticed authorities
zeroing in on them. In June 2011, one employee
warned him that immigration officials had discovered
fraudulent Calgary phone numbers linked to 29 clients. Wang seemed more concerned
about losing business than getting caught. “This is the incident with
the biggest loss,” he wrote in response. “All exploded at once, basically
have to abandon all the addresses and phones
currently being used. Have to rearrange everything. Probably will sacrifice
quite a few clients.” By the summer of 2012, CBSA
was tracking Wang’s every move, collecting evidence to
obtain a search warrant. Then, on October 17, 2012,
the agency pounced. A team of investigators executed
search warrants at Wang’s offices and residence. -We seized over 90
different bankers boxes, 18 different computers, that
had 12 terabytes of information on them. So, a tremendous amount of
evidence that had to be looked into, analysed and
matched together. -[ Frédéric ] Investigators knew
they had caught a big fish, but the seized material revealed
just how massive his operation was. -We ended up quickly finding
things like client lists, et cetera, so we were able to
tell right away that he had hundreds and
hundreds of clients. -We also came across,
hundreds of passports. Those passports, upon analysis,
showed that they had fraudulent entry and exit
stamps within them. -[ Frédéric ] Later on,
investigators obtained 18,000 New Can emails
written in Chinese. The team had to translate and
analyse the large amount of files, a massive undertaking
that took nearly two years. Then, in October 2014,
CBSA officers went back, but this time, to arrest Wang. -That day, when we arrived,
I would say he was literally caught red-handed. He came to the front counter
to meet our officers and he was holding copies of
altered passports and a passport application. So, literally we caught him
continuing the activities that we suspected him of
doing back in October 2012. -[ Frédéric ] Ultimately, Wang
pleaded guilty to 15 charges of fraud and tax evasion and was
fined more than $900,000. He was sentenced to
seven years in prison. It was a very significant
sentence and one of the longest that we’ve ever seen in Canada
for an immigration fraud scheme. -[ Frédéric ] When we come back,
we go looking for Sunny Wang. Mr. Wang, we just want to
ask you questions about the New Can case. [ ♪♪ ] [ ♪♪ ] -[ Frédéric ] After catching
Sunny Wang in Vancouver, the mastermind behind the
largest immigration fraud in Canadian history, the
Canada Border Services Agency set its sight on his clients. -We identified over
1,600 individuals. We’ve investigated each
one to see if there is an inadmissibility like, did they
misrepresent themselves to the Canadian
government officials? -[ Frédéric ] New Can clients
are regularly appearing before the immigration and refugee
board in Vancouver. Removal orders have
been issued against them. -Do you solemnly affirm that
the testimony to be given by you today shall be the truth,
the whole truth and nothing but the truth? -[ Frédéric ] Normally, cameras
are not allowed here. To obtain access, we agreed to
blur the image of the CBSA lawyer and not to reveal
the client’s identity. We will call her Ms Bing. -[ Frédéric ] Ms Bing hopes that
board member Craig Constantino will grant her clemency on
compassionate grounds. -[ Frédéric ] In 2009, Ms Bing
applied to become a Canadian citizen,
even though she wasn’t eligible because she hadn’t lived in
Canada for three years. So she paid Sunny Wang $9,000 to
help her get around the rules. She submitted a citizenship
application form prepared by Wang stating she had lived
in Calgary for two and a half years. In reality, she had stayed only
two months in Alberta before returning to China. -Before you signed the
documents, did you look over the complete forms? -[ Frédéric ] She says Wang told
her to lie to immigration officials if she
was ever questioned about her absences from Canada. -Why did you feel you had
to follow what he told you? -You thought perhaps you
might be able to get away with lying to immigration? -[ Frédéric ] In May 2011,
she and her daughter went to the Vancouver
citizenship offices, expecting to attend their
citizenship ceremony. But instead, she was questioned
by officers about suspicious stamps in her Chinese passport. Did they ask you questions
about the false stamps? Did you tell the truth? Do you remember how long
you told the officer you had lived in Calgary? So your daughter spoke to
these officers and told the Visa officers that she went to
school in Calgary for 2 years. Who told her to say that? You got your daughter to
be untruthful to CIC? -[ Frédéric ] Ms Bing did ask
Wang to withdraw her citizenship application and to
give her money back. Ms Bing’s lawyer,
Peter Larlee, says she’s a victim of the fraudster. I would submit that every client
of Sunny Wang was a victim. -[ Frédéric ] The immigration
and refugee board didn’t find sufficient
compassionate grounds in support of Ms Bing’s appeal. In his decision, board member
Constantino says she “was not a naive and
innocent victim but a willing participant.” “her only regret,” he says,
“is getting caught and the resulting
repercussions.” Her appeal is dismissed. So far, nearly 1,100 of sunny
Wang’s clients face removal from Canada or have
already left the country. Wang is a big catch for the
Canada Border and Services Agency but more unregistered
consultants are still operating under the radar both
in Canada and abroad. CBSA takes great pains to
investigate and recommend for prosecution any cases that are
similar in nature or involve any kind of border related crime. They are not going after the
small fraudulent transactions that are done in immigration,
they are just looking at big fish. -[ Frédéric ] Dory Jade heads
CAPIC, the association representing immigration
consultants. Less than four or five cases
were brought to court in the last few years. The number of investigations
opened is in the range of 150,
I think it’s 148. So, there is not enough
resources to go after those people. -[ Frédéric ] There is a
regulatory body overseeing immigration consultants in
Canada but it can only take action against
its own members, those that are
duly registered. Jade believes Ottawa should
grant that council powers to also go after those
that are not registered. We learn that Sunny Wang has
been released on parole after serving two
years in prison. So we stop at his residence
to see if he’s home. Nobody’s there. But the next time we
show up, an SUV pulls out. Mr Wang, I’m Frédéric Zalac
from Radio-Canada television. We’d like to ask you a few
questions about New Can. -[ Frédéric ] Shortly after as
we were shooting images of his house from the
street, Wang comes back and calls the RCMP to complain. He hands us his cell phone with
a puzzled police officer at the other end. Do you know who Mr Wang is? He was sentenced to seven years
in jail for immigration fraud. One of the biggest immigration
fraud in the history of Canada. A story on him, yes. -[ Frédéric ] The officer sees
no reason to intervene as we were filming from
a public street. Okay, thank you, I understand.
Thank you very much. Mr Wang, we just want to ask
you questions about the New Can case. I don’t want to. Those people are facing
deportation because of what you did. You need to book an
appointment with my parole officer
and the lawyer. I’m not sure I can
answer your question now. -When we’ve got a guy like Sunny
Wang who can set up a business whose very model was to satisfy
people breaking these rules, then you know
you’ve got a problem. He made over 10 million dollars
as a result of this scheme, had thousands of
clients, you know. The lesson is that there’s
a big problem with millionaire migration. [ ♪♪ ]

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