Middle East citizens get Canadian citizenship in fraud scheme
The RCMP has arrested a man in Montreal who was posing as an immigration consultant in Montreal, charging him with 58 counts including forgery, fraud and conspiracy. Ahmad El-Akhal, 62, was working out of his home and was not registered as a professional immigration consultant. He is accused of illegally providing Canadian citizenship and immigration documents to more than 200 Middle East citizens, none of whom lived in Canada.
El-Akhal would assist the Middle East citizens in obtaining permanent resident status, and then he’d apply for Income Tax benefits on their behalf. The Middle East citizens earned half a million dollars worth of benefits, including tax refunds, goods and services tax rebates, and child credit tax benefits.
The RCMP’s Immigration and Passport and Commercial Crimes sections were investigating the scheme for two and a half years. They also arrested El-Akhal’s wife, who was charged with possession of proceeds obtained by the crime, amounting to $155,000. A suspected accomplice, Hassan Ali Saif, was also arrested in Mississauga.
Fraud committed for over a decade
The crimes date back as far as 1999, but the RCMP’s investigation began in 2008 when Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials noticed that 320 permanent residence applications had all provided the same address as their residence in Canada. Almost all applications were linked to El-Akhal.
Government faces challenge to correct fraud
Citizenship and Immigration Canada will decide if it will revoke the citizenship and immigration status of those involved, but will commit to ending the benefits that were going to those who were not entitled.
“It is important to note that while over 300 files were implicated, we can confirm only five people had obtained Canadian citizenship,” said Melanie Carkner, a CIC spokeswoman.
It will be difficult for the government to reclaim and nullify the Canadian documents that have been wrongly issued through the fraud scheme as they are scattered throughout the Middle East.