British Columbia

Mo Yeung (Michael) Ching, Vancouver developer, accused of embezzlement in China

Prominent Vancouver developer Mo Yeung (Michael) Ching lost his bid for refugee status because he is wanted by Chinese authorities for embezzlement, according to Immigration and Refugee Board documents obtained by CBC. Ching's lawyer has issued denials.

IRB decision confirms Mo Yeung (Michael) Ching wanted by Interpol, Ching's lawyer says no merit to allegations

Prominent Vancouver developer Mo Yeung (Michael) Ching lost his bid for refugee status because he is wanted by Chinese authorities for embezzlement, according to newly obtained Immigration and Refugee Board documents.

IRB panelist Gordon McRae rejected Ching's claim for refugee status last October after finding he may have "committed a serious, non-political crime outside of Canada."

Ching and two other men are accused of defrauding China's Hebei provincial government out of $502,040 as part of a land deal in the late 1990s.

Also known as Muyang Cheng

The IRB decision, obtained by CBC through Winnipeg Federal Court, confirms that the 45-year-old developer is also known as Muyang Cheng, the man identified on an Interpol arrest warrant.

"The elements of the crime lead me to conclude that it is what would be described in Canada as a 'White Collar Crime,'" McRae wrote. 

"It was committed by well-educated, well-connected, well-established persons, one of whom was in a position of trust."

The IRB decision lends clarity to confusion that arose after the Chinese government released a list of 100 economic fugitives last month.

The list contains the same picture as an Interpol 'wanted' notice for a man named Muyang Cheng.

Chinese media reported Cheng was Mo Yeung (Michael) Ching, but his Canadian lawyers wouldn't confirm the match.

McRae's decision leaves no doubt: "In July 2000, he permanently moved to Vancouver and opened his own land development company called Mo Yeung International, a company he runs to this day."

Denies all allegations

However, in an emailed statement to CBC News on Saturday, Ching's lawyer, David Lunny, said the allegations against his client are entirely without merit.

"Mr. Ching immigrated to Canada from China openly and without subterfuge. There were no charges against him in China and no grounds for any charges," Lunny said.

"He did not flee from anything and he has never been in hiding. He was not then and is not now a fugitive. The accusations which are now made against him by the Chinese government and repeated in the media here are without foundation and they emanated only after a change in the leadership of the Chinese political regime."

In his refugee claim, Ching also denied the allegations of corruption, saying he was framed as part of a plan devised by enemies of his late father, Chinese Communist Party secretary of Hebei province.

He claims he only learned of the outstanding charges against him in 2002, when he tried to cross into the United States. The allegations led to a finding that he was inadmissible to Canada. He applied for refugee status in 2012.

According to McRae's ruling, Chinese officials claim Ching was the middleman between a property developer and one of his father's subordinates, tasked with finding a location for a new government building.

They allegedly came up with a complicated scheme that saw the government pay $2 million above the actual asking price. Chinese authorities claimed Ching and the other two men split the money.

But Ching claimed his only role was to bring the two other men together.

He claims his so-called accomplices were tortured and the evidence was fabricated, because his father's political enemies needed a target. 

But McRrae found that didn't make sense.

"It is not logical that if the alleged masterminds of these charges could bring this vast amount of fabricated evidence together to implicate the claimant and could not have directed their energies towards making it look as if the claimant's father had committed an offence," he wrote.

Suing for $1.75M

Ching has applied for a judicial review of McRae's decision. His next court date is in June.

In separate Federal Court proceedings, Ching is suing the federal government for $1.75 million for allegedly conspiring against him by sharing information with Chinese officials and denying him "statutory, constitutional, as well as international treaty rights."

The government's statement of defence notes that Ching is "also known as Cheng Muyang, the Mandarin transliteration of his name."

Mo Yeung International Enterprise's website is currently listed as under maintenance.

But a cached version says that since 2002, the company "has developed over 11 million square feet of real estate projects in Canada, the United States and Asia specializing in high-end residential, commercial and retail projects."