Pembina Trails School Division used Winnipeg immigration consultant charged with fraud
School division says it hasn't used consultant's services since 2015
A Winnipeg man charged by the Canadian Border Services Agency in September for fraud was listed as a recruiter for Pembina Trails School Division's international student program up until last week.
Hae Suk Yoon, 67, was charged by the CBSA last year with five charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and one under the Criminal Code for the offences, which allegedly occurred between March 31, 2009, and Nov. 4, 2014.
Over the course of this period, Yoon was also acting as a recruiter for the school division in southwest Winnipeg, recruiting students from 2007 to 2015.
The school division said HS Yoon Consulting was responsible for recruiting eight students during this period.
The division's superintendent, Ted Fransen, said it was an oversight that Yoon's company had not been removed from its online list of agents.
Families made their connections directly with Yoon and all students traveled with a parent, he said.
"We will be more vigilant," Fransen said in an interview with CBC News.
"Moving forward, we are going to take a closer at what we do in terms of checks and balances."
'If they had a problem … they'd call me'
Yoon was charged in September after a years-long investigation by the CBSA. The federal agency alleges that Yoon was collecting a fee for immigration services when he was not licensed under the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council, or ICCRC, and was not a lawyer in good standing, among other charges.
An information to obtain search warrant document revealed over 100 Koreans' immigration papers were allegedly connected to Yoon.
None of these allegations have been proven in court and Yoon is expected to enter a plea at his next court appearance in November.
Yoon told CBC News he acted as a liaison between the school division and recruitment agencies in South Korea. Often, he said, he would pick students up at an airport or help with translation.
"If they had a problem or stuff like that … they'd call me," Yoon said, without stating how many students' cases he was connected with.
"They would pay the agents and the agents pay me."
The school division said they paid a fee for Yoon's services, but could not say how much they paid him over the eight-year period.
No criminal background checks
Up until last week, the school division's website said that all agents must be registered with the ICCRC.
After CBC News sent an email to the school division enquiring about Yoon, wording on the website was changed to say only that "agencies in Canada that provide third-party representation" or "advice for consideration (payment or some form of compensation), or offering to do so must be accredited."
Fransen said this did not reflect a change in policy, but attributed the change to hiccups with the division's new website. Yoon did not require accreditation, he said.
A spokesperson for the division said that recruiters do not undergo a criminal background check before they become an agent with the division.
Yoon did have to submit an agent profile to the division, said the spokesperson.
The school division said of its 26 Canadian recruiters, 17 are registered with the ICCRC. Under Manitoba's International Education Act, recruiters are not required to be members of the ICCRC.
The division said moving forward, it would consider only dealing with agents accredited by the ICCRC.
The province's act also says recruiters are prohibited from providing advice or representing a student in connection with any application or proceeding that falls under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Fransen said none of the services Yoon provided for the school were related to immigration and all recruited students were involved in the school division's homestay program.
Following the allegation that Yoon was acting as an unauthorized immigration consultant, Fransen said the division will now check that its 106 agents are all in full compliance with all federal and provincial regulations.
"If not they are compliance, we won't work with them," Fransen said.
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