RCMP probe of PNP file ends quietly

Teresa Wright
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

No criminal charges laid in controversial immigration program

From left, Cora Plourd, Susan Holmes and Svetlana Tenetko, gathered at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown for a news conference outlining their allegations of fraud and bribery in the Provincial Nominee Program in this Guardian file photo.

A three-year RCMP probe into allegations of fraud and bribery involving Prince Edward Island’s controversial immigrant investor program is now closed.

The lengthy review of P.E.I.’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) quietly ended a few months ago, said Sherry MacDougall, senior communications adviser with the P.E.I. RCMP.

RELATED: Ottawa calls for probe of P.E.I. immigration program

No criminal charges have been laid.

“The PNP file is closed with no new information provided to RCMP for review/investigation,” MacDougall said in an email to The Guardian.

“To date, none of the information provided to us has led to any criminal charges.”

The probe was originally launched after explosive allegations of fraud and bribery involving senior government officials who administered the PNP were sent to Citizenship and Immigration Canada in 2011.

The allegations, which include claims these officials accepted cash bribes by Chinese applicants to the PNP, were then forwarded by the federal department to the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Three former civil servants who worked on this program, Cora Plourd, Svetlana Tenetko and Susan Holmes, made the allegations, which garnered national headlines.

RELATED: Informants accuse Ghiz of 'dirty politics'

Suitcases and envelopes stuffed with cash changing hands in exchange for approval by applicants from foreign countries into P.E.I.’s immigrant investor program as a means to gain fast-tracked Canadian visas were just some of the allegations.

The timing was especially explosive as they came in the midst of P.E.I.’s 2011 provincial election.

At the time, Premier Robert Ghiz called the allegations “crazy” and accused the P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Party and then-PC party leader Olive Crane of orchestrating the whole thing for political gain.

Both Crane and the federal immigration minister’s office denied any involvement.

CBSA closed its probe into the PNP in November of 2011 after the agency failed to turn up enough evidence to support laying charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Officers in the commercial crime unit of the P.E.I. RCMP continued its review of the Provincial Nominee Program until just a few months ago, expanding its probe in 2012 to include the program in its entirety, going all the way back to its beginnings in 2001.

This was done after the list of PNP beneficiaries was finally released after a

2012 judicial review overturned a freedom of information request that denied access to the list of immigrant investment recipients.

MacDougall stressed due diligence was done on the RCMP’s review of the PNP, but added any new information that might come forward could re-open the review at any time.

“As is the case with any file, we are always open to new information that might have merit,” MacDougall said.

NDP Leader Mike Redmond says he still believes this program was abused by government officials and wants a public inquiry to be held in the P.E.I. Provincial Nominee Program.

He pointed to the 2009 auditor general’s investigation into this program, which found a number of rules were broken or sidestepped by program administrators and senior officials.

“We’ve never got true answers on the use of proceeds (of the investments) and there were a lot of companies that were opened and closed, a lot of numbered companies, the fact that NGOs were receiving provincial nominee monies,” Redmond said.

“How many closely connected Liberals and Conservatives received more than four units (investments)? These are all areas of great concern to the general public and questions that have been unanswered.”

The federal government changed its Provincial Nominee Program rules to disallow the way P.E.I. was investing immigrant monies back in 2008.

The federal government required nominated immigrants to take an active, day-to-day role in the companies they invested in. P.E.I.’s program did not offer an active role to PNP investors.

In a 2012 interview with The Guardian, then-Immigration Minister Jason Kenney called the Ghiz government’s management of the PNP a ‘serious failure.’

But in his final year-end interview with The Guardian, Ghiz defended his record on the PNP, saying he has no regrets about the way it was handled by his administration.

Organizations: RCMP, CBSA, Citizenship and Immigration Canada P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Party Conservatives

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Sam
    January 12, 2015 - 12:29

    This was a NATIONAL hot potato as it was a NATIONAL PROGRAM administered by many Provinces. No way, could this unfold as expected because so many had their hands in its implementation. Since OTTAWA, the long time ago creator of the Program determines what is legal or not , ethical or not is a separate issue, and I suspect the PnP program was purposely made so gray and wishy washy that any Policing Authority would have a difficult defining what rules were broken exactly enough to move forward. So if the charges are technically stayed until further hard or public evidence could change the outcome down the road. I for one do not think anyone can fault the RCMP. Careers were on the line on all sides so it would have been by the book. Point the finger at Politicians who right the Book !....but then again you never hold them accountable and just re-elect bad government over and over again so be careful where you point the finger, unless you're standing in front of a mirror yourself.

  • Cromwell
    January 07, 2015 - 07:09

    I can't believe that many Islanders expected a different outcome to the RCMP probe than that announced yesterday. The PNP program, which fast-tracked fee-paying immigrants (generally Chinese and Iranian) to bypass normal immigration channels, at the expense of legitimate, and likely better candidates, was well-crafted by its developers and then carefully implemented. I have heard, anecdotally, that $40,000 per person secured entry to PEI, but I have never seen or read any confirmation or refutation of this value. Given that over the course of the PNP, more than 6,500 Chinese have come to PEI (while some 5,000 Islanders have left to find work elsewhere), it would appear that most Islanders have not seen any visible financial benefit of the program, in terms of economic growth and/or job creation (it is also interesting to note that over this same period, PEI had the highest per-capita presence of TFWs in Canada). Given that one of the outcomes of the PNP has been that the soul and birthright of our Province has been sold to the highest bidder (the population of Charlottetown currently includes more than 15% Chinese - which brings to mind the situation in Richmond, BC), perhaps the real price for the use of the PNP has been 30 pieces of silver.

  • Joe Blow
    January 06, 2015 - 20:50

    This is a very important line.."To date, none of the information provided to us has led to any criminal charges" None of the provided information lead to criminal charges because they didn't provide complete information. If they had given everything they had about PNP....there would have been a lot of charges laid....but they hide the dirty stuff and only gave out information that was irrelevant to anything or would result in any charges. Until all the information is provided....nothing will get done.

  • That Guy From PEI
    January 06, 2015 - 18:31

    Does anyone else find Robert Ghiz's announcement about stepping down as Premier and the timeline of this investigation wrapping up, a coincidence? Sounds a little fishy to me. Back door deals for him to step down in exchange for him not going to jail? Hmmm... Maybe I watch too much Law & Order.

  • reality
    January 06, 2015 - 17:34

    mike duffy's will end the same way

  • SlyFox
    January 06, 2015 - 15:28

    This all come down to laws and rules.There were rules broken in the PNP program as we all know but RCMP can not lay a charge to breaking rules.The RCMP only lay charges when laws have been broken.Sure the optics look awful with the people and companies involved in the PNP program and that is why they did not want the list revealed to the public.The public will never really know what went on with this program and that is how it was meant to be from the start.

  • rob
    January 06, 2015 - 13:48

    to let it go,,,if you do not think rcmp have ever swept anything under the rug its time for you to grow up and put some big boy pants on !!!

  • IBC
    January 06, 2015 - 12:18

    I never trusted Ghiz , never voted for him and the truth it will all come out ,why he resigned .

    • who cares
      January 06, 2015 - 22:35

      Only his wife knows for sure!

  • david
    January 06, 2015 - 11:52

    @don that is quite the attitude. So you feel because you think Confederation Center done something wrong then YOU hope that tourists and other will boycott the Confederation Centre and make the rest of us pay from it through our tax dollars. Attitudes like that goes to show why PEI remains and have not and behind the times province. Some people feel if they don't agree with something then everyone should not agree with it. I am so glad we live in country and so what a province where Governments and the police will form their own opinions and go with the evidence. The joke about Islanders who are never happy with anyone who is successful then they must have gotten through crooked or illegal means is obviously still alive and well in PEI.

  • Payback
    January 06, 2015 - 10:41

    If the money was not used as it should have been used should these businesses not be expected to pay it back? If not, why?

  • brian
    January 06, 2015 - 10:26

    How much PNP did let it go receive

  • Peter Piper
    January 06, 2015 - 08:12

    As an Islander I am totally disgusted with the PNP scandal. It is the worst disgrace in the history of Island politics. They sprinkled enough of the money around to all party members so as to create a conspiracy of silence. Millions of dollars were wasted and not a single job was created. Some folks got to buy some pretty nice vehicles, trips, and campers with the free money though. They ought to hang their heads in shame!

  • stupid voter
    January 06, 2015 - 08:11

    i voted for ghiz and binns

  • Seriously Concerned
    January 06, 2015 - 07:24

    The program should never have been allowed, as it let the rich jump the immigration queue. The PEI government used it to enrich their friends and relatives. Businesses who took advantage of PNP broke the rules, many pocketed the cash. These are FACTS.

    • don
      January 06, 2015 - 09:02

      i agree with you fully. but is fraud not against the law? look at the confed center they made up 3 fake false companies to get money but then you look t the POWERFUL names listed then you can see why NO ONE will be charged talk about the law as i have said many times the laws are wrote by crooks for crooks. and as far as i am concerned i will never walk into the confed center if you paid me a million bucks of PNP money. the RCMP done as they were told and laid no charges. but i am sure if the reg islander done as the big shots at he confed did you would be charged. i hope islanders and anyone off island BOYCOTT the confed center as it is a money pit and we will never ever stop paying for the big wages and the big hots involved in it. but at least mrs crane had he back bone to show the names etc about the PNP but the powers to be could not ever allow that as it would show how hey became rich. that to me is a fake rich and a fake person.

    • david
      January 06, 2015 - 09:31

      Nothing is fact unless there is evidence to back it up. The crazies can say the sky is green but unless there is evidence to back it up the sky remains blue. Goes to show just how easy some politicians can be lead down the garden path with no proof. This whole incident goes to show just out of touch some politicians and wannabe politicians really are.

  • Useless
    January 06, 2015 - 06:50

    Typical. Waste three years of our money and then sweep any evidence under the rug because powerful people are the ones involved in the white collar crime.

    • Let it Go
      January 06, 2015 - 09:11

      Your allegation that the RCMP would 'sweep any evidence under the rug' is both ridiculous and defamatory. Where exactly is the moderator on this comment thread!!?

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      January 06, 2015 - 13:35

      LET IT GO: might I remind you that while the RCMP officers are human, capable of evil, and some have been known to tread on the dark side. All major systems have been compromised or corrupted at the higher levels with officers compartmentalized so that they do not really know what another officer might do.