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Yellowknife immigration consultant files defence, countersues former client

A Yellowknife immigration consultant allegedly told his Chinese client that if he purchased $1 million worth of shares of Fortune Minerals Ltd., the mining company would offer him a job and help him immigrate to the Northwest Territories.

Court filings provide details in suits between Liang Chen and former client Shengtang Wang

Yellowknife immigration consultant Liang Chen and his former client, Shengtang Wang, are suing each other after their business relationship fell apart. (Walter Strong/CBC)

A Yellowknife immigration consultant allegedly told his Chinese client that if he purchased $1 million worth of shares of Fortune Minerals Ltd., the mining company would offer him a job and help him immigrate to the Northwest Territories.

The accusation came out in a series of court documents filed by consultant Liang Chen and his former client, Shengtang Wang, who are suing each other after their business relationship fell apart.

Wang is suing Chen and his B.C.-based immigration consultant company, C.L. Pacific Immigration Consulting Ltd., alleging he never returned a $50,000 deposit and owes him another $75,000 for breaching a currency exchange contract.

Chen has since filed a statement of defence and counterclaim against Wang. While he does not dispute the claim that he breached the currency exchange contract, he laid out a series of his own claims, accusing Wang of slander and breaching a number of business contracts, totalling more than $1.7 million.

He's also suing for more than $4.6 million in exemplary damages. 

None of the claims have been proven in court and no court date has been set.

Chen has previously been sued by two other former clients, one in the N.W.T. and one in B.C.

In court documents filed on Dec. 9, Chen says in 2016, Wang hired him to help apply to the territory's employer-driven stream of its nominee program, after a previous application he made to B.C.'s provincial nominee program failed.

According to the government of the Northwest Territories website, the employer stream is designed to help companies who want to hire and nominate foreign nationals when there are no Canadians or Canadian permanent residents available.

In a reply and defence to Chen's counterclaim dated Jan. 4, Wang alleges Chen told him if his wife purchased $1 million worth of shares in Fortune Minerals, a London, Ont., based company which operates in the N.W.T., then it would hire him as a skilled worker under the territory's employer stream.

He claims Chen insisted he purchase the shares and promised he would receive a work permit from the government of Canada soon after doing so.

Wang alleges that despite following Chen's instructions, his application to the employer stream was rejected.

He claims Chen "negligently or fraudulently misrepresented the requirements for the employer program" to get him to agree to an alleged verbal agreement. That agreement, according to Chen's claim, would see him broker the deal to purchase shares of a publicly traded company in exchange for a stock commission, a claim Wang denies.

Liang Chen is listed as an immigration consultant on the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council's website. (Submitted by Liang Chen)
 

In his court document, Chen writes that "Mr. Wang understands if he makes $1 million in share purchase of a PTC [publicly traded company], the company will support him for NTNP-ES [the Northwest Territories Nominee Program's Employer Stream]."

Chen did not expressly say in his court documents he was the one who told Wang that the investment would result in support for the program, and Chen never named Fortune Minerals.

However, Chen laid out the stock purchase in detail, claiming Wang purchased about $750,000 worth of shares through private placements, and another $250,000 worth of shares from "James William Jr., a previous PTC director." 

When reached by phone, Chen could not clarify if he meant James Williams Jr., a former director of Fortune Minerals, and declined to comment on the court case.

Fortune Minerals also declined to comment on the story, saying in an email it would not be appropriate to comment or speculate on matters before the court. Calls to Williams Jr. were not returned.

In his court filings, Chen notes that in March 2016, the PTC was experiencing difficulties with the market price per share trading near a five-year low, at around $0.05 a share, compared to its five-year high of $1.60, figures which line up with Fortune Minerals stock price.

Chen also referenced a commitment by the government of the Northwest Territories to an unnamed infrastructure project that would greatly enhance the value of the share price.

In Jan. 2016, the territorial government said it would file an application in March of that year for permits needed to build an all-weather road from Behchokǫ̀ to Whatì.

The president of Fortune Minerals called the road essential to supply its NICO mine project, a cobalt, gold and bismuth mine about 50 kilometres northeast of Whatì.

Third attempt at nominee program

After Wang's application was rejected to the employee stream, he hired Chen to help him apply to the territory's business stream of the nominee program, the third time he retained Chen's services to help him immigrate to Canada.

The agreement included a $50,000 "investment deposit" which would be returned to Wang if he received a work permit

Wang was accepted into the program in January 2019, and opened NorthernSky Films, a 360° dome theater in Yellowknife.

Chen claims he and Wang understood the deposit was intended to be used to compensate him for the work he carried out to get the business up and running, including sourcing equipment and contractors, providing advice on hiring staff, and finding potential customers like schools and travel agencies. 

Wang claims no such deal was in place.

Alleged Copperhouse slander

In early 2020, Chen alleges Wang went behind his back and spoke to his business partners at the Copperhouse Eatery and Lounge, spreading lies that he deceived his immigration clients, including two former servers who worked at the Yellowknife restaurant, and owed Chen hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Chen claims the fallout led his partners at the Copperhouse to cut ties and buy him out, resulting in a loss of more than $500,000. He's also suing Wang to recover those funds.

Wang denies making slanderous comments, and denies he contributed to any losses Chen suffered.

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