UPDATE: RCMP expand PNP probe

Teresa Wright
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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.

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: RCMP

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Recent comments

  • Im not connected enough
    November 26, 2012 - 15:32

    I have a seafood business,My banker told me to get on the prograam that it was the biggest legal scam he has ever seen,,,i applied but was denied because our business didnt qualify,,,,,I seen the list it looks like every business on the island qualified,i wante to put the money into my new struggling business exactly where it is meant to be put and was denied,Im thankfull i didnt get it now,I would never want to be part of this criminal activity.

  • Where are the Guardian Moderators
    November 25, 2012 - 11:32

    Some comments on here should never have been posted. Does the Guardian not have anyone monitoring these comments? If not, then why bother with this disclaimer? "We ask that users remain courteous. You may not post insulting, discriminatory or inappropriate content, which may be removed at our discretion."

  • nina bryll
    November 24, 2012 - 13:21

    The RCMP said they will not be investigating the way the program was run. In other words they will not investigate the deputy minister that changed the rules on his own(or with the blessing or encouragement of his superiors). The change included giving more units than the four each company was allowed, and giving units to non profit organization what were supposed inelligible. That was all blatant politics, - and this should be investigated by the Fed. Gov. who set up the guidelines and started the program. If the rules were not followed (as is abvious) the Fed Government should be penalizing the people involved. Mr. Kenny told us it will not happen and ther est is up to us, - in other words, if we don't approve we thrown them out in the next election. Meanwhile we will just have to not let is bother us that Mr. Ghiz appointed same deputy to a plum job with the LCC. - I feel Mr. Kenny did not do due deligence, turned a blind eye, and set a poor example. Our only recourse is to make sure we Ghiz and the gang out in the election, ---- no matter who the opposition is led by.

  • Bill Dow
    November 24, 2012 - 10:18

    I would say they start looking into this all around crooked LAWyer!!

  • catherine
    November 24, 2012 - 09:09

    I am disappointed that the RCMP is not also looking to see if the rules of the program were also broken. This to me is also fraudulent. I'd like them to look to see if the government allowed the rules to be broken as well if there were companies that did something illegal.

  • If you have a nose on your face . . .
    November 24, 2012 - 08:23

    Let's not forget that our politicians make our laws. It's incredibly difficult, especially with corporate jurisprudence, to catch a crook. Just imagine if you were able to make up all the rules of a game, how difficult it would be for someone to catch you cheating. Sometimes the best we can do is to "protest" the game itself. Yep, intuitively we know we've been planb'd again, but this crime may leave neither a legal nor an environmental scar, but it sure leaves a rotten stench in the air.

  • Chet
    November 24, 2012 - 07:10

    So you can break the rules AND beat the charges. Saaaaweeettt!!! Legalized fraud. Very interesting.

  • Gerard W
    November 24, 2012 - 05:08

    Hope that INCOME TAX has been paid on all these P. N. P. dollars, I pay my taxes every year............ They MUST pay theirs.

  • keepdigging -you have the support of us non-criminals
    November 23, 2012 - 23:14

    I am glad to hear about the investigation and from the get go those involved in creating dummy companies such as Confed center and Tourism - should all IMMEDIATLEY be fired from their jobs. I hope there are serious charges and fines handed out to any and all who are caught in this investigation. It did not benifit the island..it benifited a few. It did not benifit the immigrants it exploited them. I think higher authorities than the RCMP should be involved as the curuption is that extensive.

  • SG
    November 23, 2012 - 22:51

    Yes Teresa a Great Job. You deserve a Special Xmas Gift!

  • SG
    November 23, 2012 - 22:43

    Sgt. Blackadar: (He said investigators are going all the way back to 2001 to look at the program in its entirety.) Gee I guess by the time this investigation is finished I'll either be too old to read it or won't be here! Looking through Ten Years of PNP Files might take a LONG TIME!

  • circles
    November 23, 2012 - 16:29

    I somehow doubt it will go anywhere. What a shame.

  • JRCK
    November 23, 2012 - 15:52

    What a waste of time . This program was done in a completely honest way. Just a group of jealous whiners stirring the pot !

    • Costa Rica loves PnP
      November 23, 2012 - 17:08

      Ah the good ole days of PNP were golden years for Immigration Lawyers and Accountants not just on PEI but in all provinces. The Costa Rican's love PNP too given the real estate boom it created . In many ways PNP was global stimulus program with a twist but what will Ch'town do now without PnP? Well, maybe they should start a class action suit for the immigrants to get their money back if the company they invested in didn't follow the rules....do it for say 30% of the claim and make a fortune lol

    • Lucan
      November 25, 2012 - 13:21

      But of course to you ' completely honest" means the right families being paid off. Sorry.Wrong century.

  • Chucker
    November 23, 2012 - 15:22

    Is there anybody else as shocked as I am that the RCMP did not have a PNP recipient list for the last year or so? I mean Holy --------!!!!!! A court case was required for it to be made public but could the RCMP not have gotten it by simply asking for it? And now they will be using a list that many people say is both incomplete and inclusive of names that are not recipients. I find this rather bizarre.

    • islandwoman
      November 23, 2012 - 17:55

      I do too. I would hope the RCMP has better investigative techniques than just reading the paper. Although that would explain why their investigations go no where.

  • Resident
    November 23, 2012 - 15:09

    Looking in the wrong place. Instead of pursuing "the misuse of money" investigate the misuse of the program. 10-12 Agent companies orchestrated the pyramid scheme and ripped hundreds of millions in agent fees. Investigating the businesses on the list is a waste of time.

    • islandwoman
      November 23, 2012 - 18:02

      I agree. In one year alone between 400-545 millions dollars in PNP - Ghiz says 400 million. The businesses split less than 120 million. Where's the rest?

  • Mell
    November 23, 2012 - 14:22

    This is a huge scam on the part of the province and it should have been shut down years ago.

  • AMAZED
    November 23, 2012 - 14:22

    What about the names not on the list?Will they be scrutinizied?Were the fees charged by lawyers and accountants exhorbitant,do they compare to other provinces?The companies that only existed on paper or funds held in trust?Soooooo much to do however take your time and do it right don't miss ANYTHING. I don't mind extra tax dollars being used to uncover fraudulent dealings .To quote Monty Burns...Exxxxxxxxxcellent!

  • conflict of interest
    November 23, 2012 - 13:40

    They should certainly be looking at conflict of interest issues as well as whether the rules were properly followed on how the invested money was used. Also, under federal rules the whole of the investor's deposit was supposed to be held in trust until the applicant got his/her immigration visa - only then could that deposit money be released to be invested. This is theft when the govt took the money and "gave it away" before the potential immigrant had his/her application confirmed and has not returned the money to the unsuccessful applicants.

  • Islander
    November 23, 2012 - 13:26

    Maybe Revenue Canada should also have a look and see who declared the money on their taxes.

  • what about numbered companies
    November 23, 2012 - 13:16

    What about numbered companies that did nothing or were set up just to receive PNP? Am thinking of the subsidiaries of Confed Centre and Kings Playhouse, etc. which were told ''create a company and you'll get PNP''. These companies don't make money, do nothing, yet get investment. That is wrong, if not outright fraudulent. Keep digging RCMP... While you're at it you might want to look at some of the deputy ministers and the companies involved in providing services to the program - accounting firms, law firms, etc. as well as the people who were paid to travel to Hong Kong, Dubai, etc. to sign people up and what these people had for family connections with the Liberal government, etc.

  • please clarify
    November 23, 2012 - 13:00

    FYI - does willful and negligent non-compliance with the USE of PROCEEDS agreement as signed by each recipient of PNP units CONSTITUTE FRAUD?? FYI, the signed documents would state, and I quote: “Principal Shareholder(s) hereby agree and undertake that the net investment funds received by the Investee Corporation under the PEI PNP will be used in accordance with the Business Plan submitted by the Investee Corporation to Island Investment Development Inc. In Particular, the Investee Corporation agrees to utilize the net investment funds for the following: a) expansion of the business as described in the application for eligibility; b) to increase working capital excluding payment or distribution to shareholders by way of wages, dividends, or distribution of any kind; and (“Conditions of Approval”) c) to repay short or long term debt. (“Excluding shareholder debt”) 2. In support of this undertaking, if the net investment proceeds received by the Investee Corporation under the PEI PNP, within two (2) years of receipt of same, are not used in material compliance with the Business Plan submitted by the Investee Corporation to Island Investment Development Inc. or with the Conditions of Approval, the Investee Corporation and the Principal Shareholder(s) agree and promise to pay to Island Investment Development Inc., on demand, a penalty of up to $55,000.00 for each investment unit received by the Investee Corporation under the PEI PNP.

  • Get the lead out of your pants RCMP
    November 23, 2012 - 12:40

    In the circumstances where the Deputy Minister handed out 120 million dollars in fees for passports to his friends and family and indeed himself after changing rules without proper authority (all of this found by Auditor as facts) Why is this man not charged with Breach Of Trust, just for starters. thanks eh?

  • tim
    November 23, 2012 - 12:28

    A big waste of money. Everything was on the level with the P.N.P.

    • intobed
      November 23, 2012 - 14:37

      So how much did you get, Tim?

  • Charge the Allegators
    November 23, 2012 - 12:23

    There should be criminal charges laid against the 3 former civil servants who made the wild and false allegations. What type of society do we live in where a person can make up false allegations and have no reprecutations when the allegations are proven to be false? The RCMP officers involved in investigating these false allegations could have been spending their time doing something more useful to protect the public.

    • scared?
      November 23, 2012 - 16:30

      No smoke without fire.........and personally I'd prefer my tax money to be spent paying the RCMP to be investigating this rather than acting as security guards for the Plan B contractors.

    • CleanProvinceHouse.
      November 23, 2012 - 17:32

      Perhaps it should also be made known the amounts that each of those companies received, and an investigation into how those funds were used after they were handed out. My guess would be home renovations, new cars, cottages, toys, etc, etc. If everything was on the level, then there should be nothing to hide. It doesn't take a genius to know something is up. Just the fact that they wanted to bury the list of companies says enough. Disgusting, wasteful, back scratching.

    • charge the privacy violator too
      November 23, 2012 - 17:35

      I agree, they should have consequences for their actions because it wasn't so much whistleblowing as vindictive partisan politics. But at the same time I would similarly charge Allan Campbell or whatever his name is from Souris whose personal email messages were published from his account which ended up trashing and slandering these women. He violated privacy policy and various government IT policies. Yet he is back as an employee of government.... He should be out flat on his butt.

  • please clarify
    November 23, 2012 - 12:11

    If a 'manufacturing' company applied and receive units.... but subsequently manufactured nothing ... does that constitute fraud? If a company existed only on paper but received units, does that constitute fraud. Did they have to commit or declare, in writing, to do something productive with these funds as outlined in the "eligibility to apply" regulations... and YET THEY DID NOT, does that constitute fraud?

    • UPWESTER
      November 23, 2012 - 15:38

      PLEASE CLARIFY - No one said the allegations were false, what the RCMP said there wasn't sufficient evidence to lay charges. That is quite different than being false.Stop laying politics with this multi-party scam. -

    • PLEASE CLARIFY
      November 23, 2012 - 22:37

      Just a message for UPWESTER - I think you are responding to the wrong post... I think your comment was intended for CHARGE THE ALLEGATORS... Personally, I think there must be some factual basis for people to be prepared to make such claims as those made by the 3 former government associates.

  • PNP Follower
    November 23, 2012 - 12:06

    Teresa Wright, you are doing an excellent job on this file and please keep it going. I would be totally surprised if the RCMP do NOT find criminal wrongdoing involving Immigrants money, how the prgram got off the ralis when Ottawa changed the rules as well I would be surprised if no law firms or accountants did no profit from this massive scadal. If everything was above board, why did it have to take a Supreme Court Judge to have to rule on releasing names of companies. This release is just a smooth over, thinking it will go away. What is required here is a Public Inquiry if in fact the RCMP determine they don't have sufficient evidence to proceed with criminal charges. I would think many in high places or think they are would be bit worried right about now. When this finally breaks someone will have egg on their face, than watch the backtracking. We will hear things like" Jesus I didn't think we were doing anything wrong" Like a previous blooger said"the truth will set you free" Trouble is this is only for honest people who have been braught up right and taught what is right and what is wrong.