Canada busts single biggest immigration racketBy Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Friday, January 7, 2011
TORONTO - Canada, which has the highest per capita rate of immigration in the world, has unearthed one of the biggest immigration rackets with the arrest of a consultant in Quebec.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Thursday arrested Ahmad El-Akhal, who secured citizenship for hundreds of people from the Middle East and then milked hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Canadian government as benefits and tax refunds these so-called new Canadian citizens who actually still live in Lebanon and other countries.
His wife and an accomplice were also arrested.
The unusual racket, which has been going on since 1999 and secured Canadian citizenship for more than people still living in the Middle, was exposed by the RCMP after two and a half years of sustained investigations.
The racket came to light when Citizenship and Immigration Canada noticed that 320 permanent residence applicants had given the same 29 home addresses in Canada, according to a local daily. On investigation, police found that 260 of these applications had been submitted by El-Akhal.
Further, police also found that none of these people who secured citizenship and government benefits through El-Akhal actually lived in Canada.
“Basically, this individual passed himself off as an immigration consultant and assisted these people in obtaining permanent resident status and submitted the applications for them,” according to a police spokesman.
A statement by the RCMP said that “several hundred foreign nationals not residing in Canada used fraudulent means to obtain Canadian Citizenship and Canadian travel documents.
“In addition, it is alleged that false Income Tax returns were filed for individuals, allowing them to receive improperly benefits and tax refunds from the Canada Revenue Agency of approximately $500,000.”
Immigrants from the Middle East, including Lebanon, constitute a huge chunk of more than a million Muslim immigrants in Canada.
Most Lebanese Canadians are alleged to be ‘citizens of convenience’ who come to Canada only to avail of social and medical benefits. During the 2006 Middle East crisis, Canada had to spent millions of dollars to airlift thousands of Lebanese Canadians.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)