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How China's 'crooked consultants' help the rich enter Canada Add to ...

He is in his 50s and has spent his entire career in the quality-control department of a company owned by the Chinese government. His salary isn't much, but he has made millions on the side - he won't say precisely how - and now wants to emigrate to Canada.

There is a special program designed to fast-track immigrants with money to inject into the Canadian economy, but he doesn't really qualify.

He has the required minimum of $1.6-million in assets. What he doesn't have are the documents Canadian immigration officials want: neither banking and pay statements to show that his wealth has accumulated gradually and legitimately nor proof that he has paid taxes on it. He also doesn't have the necessary two years' experience in managing employees.

In China, however, manufacturing a personal history that will satisfy Immigration Canada is no problem for almost anyone willing to pay.

To overcome his obstacles, the well-off quality-control officer approached 22 China-based immigration consultants for advice. He soon found that his destination is so popular for wealthy people like him that a black market has arisen to generate the forged documents and massaged back stories that so many seem to need.

And the image doctors appear to be good at what they do: Several claim to have a 100-per-cent success rate. "If you make a fake," observed a consultant in the southern city of Guangzhou, "you should fake it real."

That admission was surprisingly frank, considering that it was made over the telephone to a caller whose own identity was no more genuine than the one he wanted to have fabricated. In reality, the quality-control officer was a character invented by The Globe and Mail to see just how far people will go to help someone leave China.

Disreputable consultants have long been the subject of controversy in Canada. Just before the May 2 federal election was called, Bill C-35 was read into law, making it illegal for anyone who is unregistered to charge a fee for immigration advice.

But a bigger threat may lurk abroad. More than 80 per cent of the companies The Globe's counterfeit client asked for help offered to sugarcoat the past, even if it includes a criminal conviction and time in jail.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney confirms that "crooked consultants" in such places as India, Pakistan and especially China are a problem. "A lot of people," he said in an interview, "are willing to pay a lot of money to cut corners."

Canada-China relations thorny

For years, China has been the No. 1 source of newcomers to Canada, and applying as an investor is the fastest route to permanent resident status. Permission to come is often granted within a year.

In 2009, about 2,000 investor immigrants and their families were accepted from China, most of them private citizens drawn by the promise of a better environment, education system and health care.

A report in Friday's Global Times newspaper found that among those Chinese with at least 100 million yuan (about $15-million) in assets, 27 per cent had already begun the process of emigrating, and another 47 per cent were also considering leaving the country.

Consultants in China say that those being fast-tracked also include public employees, who, like the quality-control officer, are surprisingly well off.

Ying Hong, a Guangzhou firm that bragged of its 100-per-cent success rate, made no secret of helping wealthy bureaucrats. "Many officials take foreign passports," the agent said, laughing. "But I can't tell you who."

China's relationship with Canada is often thorny, and one of its more charged issues is the claim that Ottawa provides refuge to at least 70 fugitives, including former government officers accused of corruption. Beijing says Canada turns a blind eye to immigrants' shortcomings if they have money - and then refuses to extradite those who stand accused of serious crimes.

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