Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Hurdles Hamper Border Agency's Pursuit of Crooked Immigration Consultants: Memo

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Hurdles Hamper Border Agency's Pursuit of Crooked Immigration Consultants: Memo

Article excerpt

Hurdles hamper pursuit of shady consultants

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OTTAWA - Reluctant witnesses, scant evidence, and limited time and resources pose serious challenges when it comes to investigating crooked immigration consultants, the Canada Border Services Agency says.

Agency president Luc Portelance tells Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney in a newly disclosed memo that fraudulent activities involving unscrupulous consultants "threaten the integrity of Canada's immigration program."

The correspondence highlights the latest headaches confronting federal officials in their long battle against criminals who take advantage of people desperate to come to Canada.

The memo, released under the Access to Information Act, says the border agency has received more than 700 referrals of suspected consultant-related fraud for criminal investigation since 2008. About 140 of these have resulted in investigations.

Over the last six years, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada has accepted 22 cases, with 13 resulting in guilty convictions and several others still making their way through the courts, the memo adds.

In 2013-14, the border agency opened 40 investigations into consultant fraud -- the highest number in the last six years.

"Most of these cases are still under active investigation," the memo says.

However, consultant fraud cases are among the most time-consuming and resource-intensive investigations, Portelance notes.

In August the border agency laid four charges against an Edmonton consultant who allegedly provided her clients with forged documents -- charges that came three years after the agency received a complaint against her.

Obtaining evidence to prove intent of a crime often includes several search warrants, production orders, interviews and surveillance operations, Portelance says in the memo.

"The focus on complex cases creates a significant pressure on (border agency) time and resources, and statistical reporting often does not truly demonstrate the significant amount of work being undertaken at a given time," it says. …

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