Dozens of victims of an alleged immigration fraud scheme have joined a lawsuit against a group of Richmond residents and their consultancy business.
The lawsuit against the Richmond-based business was started in the B.C. Supreme Court by a Chinese immigration company in 2016, which claimed a loss of more than $4 million from Chinese clients.
The consultancy business — USA-Canada International Investment Inc. (UCII) — and its directors, Tzu Chun Joyce Chang, Xunfan Jiang and Yueming Zeng, are all listed as defendants of the lawsuit along with other related parties.
The victims had applied to a business nomination program in Yukon with UCII’s help, but their applications were denied after Canadian immigration officers told them their nomination certificates, allegedly issued by Yukon government officials, were “false or invalid.”
Some victims were banned from re-applying to immigrate to or visit Canada for five years.
The victims had heard about the Yukon program from Ningbo Zhelun Overseas Immigration Service Co. Ltd., the Chinese company behind the current lawsuit.
According to court documents, Zhelun claimed Chang approached it in 2013 about a “re-defined” business nomination program in Yukon with easier requirements for applicants to fulfill.
The two entered into a cooperation agreement in 2014 where UCII would prepare the applications, obtain permanent residency and fulfill the program requirements for Zhelun’s clients in exchange for an application fee of $50,000 per application.
UCII was required to provide a refund plus interest if it failed to perform its part of the contract.
Zhelun told the court it marketed the program to potential clients from 2014 to 2015 and gave UCII more than $4 million from its Chinese clients. The total amount was subsequently increased and the lawsuit now involves alleged investments of more than $10 million, according to court documents.
Zhelun’s clients are not the only ones involved in the lawsuit, as a B.C. company, Mega International Labor and Immigration Services Inc., claims it also sent its clients to UCII through an arrangement with Zhelun.
Clients to join lawsuit
According to court documents, the alleged victims are asking for an undetermined amount of damages and interest. They also want to ban UCII and other defendants from getting rid of assets and properties related to the case.
UCII had allegedly told Zhelun it was unable to provide a refund on request “because it had invested the funds in various businesses” in accordance with the requirements of the Yukon program.
In a recent application to master John Bilawich, the two plaintiff companies, Zhelun and Mega, asked to add 56 clients as plaintiffs for the case because the two companies did not have the authority to pursue their clients’ claims as their own.
They also asked to add more defendants to the lawsuit.
Master Bilawich acknowledged there would be “significant challenges” to the logistics of adding 56 new plaintiffs, and the two plaintiff companies had offered a “less than satisfactory” explanation for their substantial delay in adding the new parties.
However, he ultimately decided it would be “just and convenient” to add the new parties.
Other defendants in the lawsuit include immigration consultant Ajay Sehgal and his company First Choice Immigration Services, and Kashif Ahmed an immigration lawyer, who were all alleged to have been involved in preparing and submitting some of the applications.
The alleged victims briefly started and discontinued a class action in the B.C. Supreme Court against UCII in 2016. Zhelun and Mega, also have an ongoing lawsuit in Yukon against UCII.
Some defendants have been charged with criminal offences and a trial is ongoing at Richmond Provincial Court.