Note found at motel gave PNP deposit instructions, immigration fraud trial hears

A handwritten note in Chinese, found by Canada Border Services during a search of the Sherwood Motel, contained instructions from a client in P.E.I.’s provincial nominee program on depositing their refunded language deposit into an account at RBC.

Translation of note read during second day of testimony in immigration fraud trial in Charlottetown

Ping Zhong and her brother Yi Zhong are accused of assisting clients of P.E.I.'s provincial nominee program to provide false information about their residency in Canada. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

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  • The Crown stayed the charges against the Zhongs on Dec. 14, 2018.

A handwritten note in Chinese, found by Canada Border Services during a search of the Sherwood Motel, contained instructions from a client in P.E.I.'s provincial nominee program on depositing their refunded language deposit into an account at RBC.

The note was addressed to "Ms. Zhong," and included instructions on mailing what was referred to as a "maple leaf card" to an address in Richmond Hill, Ont.

A translation of the note was read into the court record during the second day of testimony in an immigration fraud trial in Charlottetown.

Ping Zhong and her brother Yi Zhong both face multiple charges of aiding or abetting misrepresentation under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act — specifically, they're accused of assisting clients of P.E.I.'s provincial nominee program (PNP) to provide false information about their residency in Canada.

'Addresses of convenience'

The Zhongs have pleaded not guilty. The siblings are co-owners of the Sherwood Motel in Charlottetown.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) investigators allege in court documents hundreds of immigrants used the motel and other addresses in Charlottetown as "addresses of convenience," to make it appear they were living in Charlottetown when they were actually overseas or elsewhere in Canada.

According to documents submitted as evidence and referenced by Federal Crown prosecutor Caroline Lirette in her questioning of Canada Border Services investigator Lana Hicks — the PNP client who signed that Chinese note landed in Toronto on Sept. 17, 2010.

Investigators with the Canada Border Services Agency allege hundreds of immigrants used the Sherwood Motel as an address to make it appear they were living in Charlottetown when they were actually overseas or elsewhere in Canada. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

They were listed as having landed in P.E.I. almost two months later, on Nov. 8, 2010. Other documents referenced the same date of Nov. 8 for approval of the client's refund of their language deposit from Island Investment Development Inc. (IIDI), the provincial Crown corporation in charge of P.E.I.'s provincial nominee program.

Another record from that November date authorized one of the accused in the trial, Ping Zhong, to receive the cheque for the client's refund.

'Never been into our office'

But in an email to the client's intermediary dated Sept. 21, 2011, providing a reminder that the term for the client's good faith deposit was coming up, a spokesperson for IIDI wrote: "This client has never been into our office for a landing. Therefore we do not have any contact information on file."

That same statement — about PNP clients never having been into the IIDI office — has been read into the record multiple times by Hicks over her two days of testimony, each time from a different email, with regards to any one of seven PNP clients referred to in the case against the Zhongs.

During a brief cross-examination before the case adjourned for the day, defence lawyers questioned why, in the case of one particular client, they were shown in some documents as having landed on P.E.I., while in other documents, IIDI wrote they hadn't.

'Settlement Services Package'

Another document found during the search of the Sherwood Motel and submitted as evidence was a printed form, in Chinese, including flight arrival details for a PNP client, along with a list of ten services included as part of a "PEI Free Settlement Services Package."

Among the services listed: pickup at the airport, assistance applying for a social insurance card, and an "introduction to local surroundings."

The tenth service is listed as "providing PR address and mailing service (postage)."

While it wasn't elaborated upon while the letter was read out during questioning, PR is the shorthand both the Crown  and Hicks used for "permanent resident."

The trial continues Thursday morning.

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About the Author

Kerry Campbell

Provincial Affairs Reporter

Kerry Campbell is the provincial affairs reporter for CBC P.E.I., covering politics and the provincial legislature. kerry.campbell@cbc.ca