Undercover investigation unmasks cash-for-jobs Chinese immigration scheme

June 23, 2017

By Geoff Leo, CBC News  |

In his 30 years as an immigration expert, Richard Kurland said he’s only ever heard rumours of people paying money for job offers to foreign nationals.

“It’s almost the stuff of immigration legendary myth that there are envelopes of cash being passed around for offers of employment in Canada,” said the Vancouver-based lawyer and immigration policy analyst.

But he said a case CBC recently uncovered in Saskatchewan is “the first time on record someone was caught” — as he put it — “green-handed.”

In an undercover investigation, CBC’s iTeam recorded an immigration consultant offering to pay a Prince Albert, Sask., business owner cash in exchange for a letter offering a Chinese national a job.

And it may, in fact, be part of a larger scam.

Last month, a man named Bill Sui dropped by Fabricland in Prince Albert and told owner Barb Reid his company was looking for Canadian jobs to offer to Chinese people wanting to immigrate.

According to Reid, Sui told her his immigration consulting company, Vstar International, would pay the salary and benefits of a would-be Chinese immigrant for three months of work if she simply provided a job offer.

As an extra incentive, he offered to pay Reid $15,000 in cash. He called it a “training fee.”

‘I’m not trying to hide anything’

The offer raised Reid’s suspicion, so she contacted CBC’s iTeam, saying, “It sounds pretty sketchy and something just can’t be quite legal with the whole process.”

CBC recorded two subsequent phone calls between Reid and Sui, who was unaware the calls were being recorded.

In one of those conversations, Sui explained the details of his $15,000 offer to Reid.

“Usually we give cash, because usually our owners have a really high personal income. So, I just give them cash to save their tax and also save tax for our company,” he said.

Sui told Reid everything about this program was on the up and up.

“I’m not trying to hide anything,” Sui told Reid. “Basically, this is a government program. It’s a benefit for you to get some cheap labour and skilled worker because you pay taxes.”

He said the Chinese workers would be brought in through the skilled worker category of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program, which allows the province to recommend qualified foreign nationals for landed immigrant status.

Sui said because the skilled worker category requires a job with specialized skills, Reid would have to give the job an impressive-sounding title; the new immigrant couldn’t just be called a cashier.

Reid explained to CBC what Sui originally proposed to her: “It would have to be like a ‘buyer’ or something like that, so it looked good coming to Canada.”

In a recorded conversation, Sui assured Reid other businesses had already signed on, listing off restaurants and electronic stores as examples, though he didn’t provide names or locations.

Sui said Reid would be able to pick the worker she wanted from a stack of resumés. He assured her there would be no long-term commitment.

“We cover first three months wages just like probation period for you to try them out,” he said. “If he works well, he can stay. If you don’t like him or he doesn’t make enough profit for you, I just find another job for him.”

Even if Reid let the worker go, Sui said, “you keep the $15,000.”

Read more