The RCMP is scrutinizing the list of companies that benefitted from P.E.I.’s immigrant investor program as part of an expanded police review of the PNP.
Officers in the commercial crime unit of the P.E.I. RCMP are looking to determine whether there was any criminal activity involving the Provincial Nominee Program or any of the businesses that benefitted from it.
“In light of the names of the companies being made public, we just want to check all those companies to see if there’s anything that we missed in our initial review,” Sgt. Andrew Blackadar said in an interview with The Guardian Friday.
He said investigators are going all the way back to 2001 to look at the program in its entirety.
They want to determine once and for all whether this program crossed criminal lines at any point in time.
“PNP has always been an issue publicly almost since its inception and we want to go right back to… when the program first started in the province,” Blackadar said.
“We want to make sure we look at everything before we determine whether we’re going to put this to bed or whether there’s actually some criminal wrongdoing there.”
The Mounties have already examined records from the auditor general’s investigation into the PNP in 2009 and the subsequent probe into the program by the province’s public accounts committee. It has also interviewed a number of individuals on this file.
This review was originally prompted by allegations of fraud and bribery involving senior government officials who administered the PNP.
The allegations, which include claims these officials accepted cash bribes by Chinese applicants to the PNP, were forwarded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to the RCMP in September of 2011.
Three former civil servants, Cora Plourd, Svetlana Tenetko and Susan Holmes, made the allegations, which garnered national headlines during the provincial election campaign last year.
Blackadar said investigators have not found anything to substantiate any of these allegations.
“At this point we haven’t uncovered any evidence that would support a criminal charge,” Blackadar said.
But these allegations will continue to be part of the ongoing review that now includes the 1,354 companies that received funds through the program, he added
“We’ll be looking at it from an external point of view to see if there’s anything with those companies and the allegations our original complainants made that may tie in and then at that point we may have to go further,” Blackadar said.
“That’s why we have to look at these company names to see if there’s anything from the initial allegations that may lead us in a different direction.”
Investigators are especially interested in the numbered companies that received PNP funds, known as units. Approximately 100 of these companies, whose trade names are registered as merely a six- to seven digit number, benefitted from the program.
“There are a lot of numbered companies there, and those are the ones we really have to get into the see who’s actually behind the numbered companies,” Blackadar said.
“We’re not looking at if the rules of the program were broken, we’re looking at – did some phantom company show up and we know it’s not there and it’s never been there – those are the ones we’re looking at because it may cross into criminality.”
No charges have been laid in connection to this review.