Rich Chinese immigrants' deception costs British Columbia billions

Thursday, 09 October, 2014, 5:17am
News World
CANADA
Ian Young in Vancouver ian.young@scmp.com
Province misses out on its promised loans as rich Chinese claim they are settlin
g elsewhere
Most of the 30,000 rich Chinese who have recently moved to British Columbia told
authorities they would settle elsewhere in Canada, with the deception costing t
he province access to billions of dollars in loans.
An investigation by the South China Morning Post revealed the widespread illicit
practice, which is demonstrated in a huge discrepancy between approval and arri
val numbers of Chinese in BC under the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP). The P
ost's revelations come as Ottawa prepares to unveil a wealth migration scheme to
replace the federal IIP, which was axed in June.
The huge influx of rich Chinese is already a hotly debated issue in Vancouver, w
hich has seen property prices soar.
From 2005 to 2012, a total of 29,764 rich Chinese, mostly from the mainland but
also from Taiwan and Hong Kong, are known to have moved to BC under the programm
e, which required applicants to loan Canada C$800,000 (HK$5.54 million) per fami
ly and have minimum assets of C$1.6 million. Yet in the same period, only 13,872
certificates of permanent residency were issued to applicants from greater Chin
a who nominated BC as their intended destination.
This suggests at least 53 per cent of all Chinese known to have settled in BC un
der the IIP said they planned to live elsewhere. Immigration experts said this w
as mainly done to secure preferential treatment - for instance, by applying via
Quebec's independently run IIP to bypass the queue for the now-defunct federal v
ersion of the scheme.
Because the IIP's loan funds are disbursed to the provinces according to the sta
ted destination of migrants, the deception has cost BC access to about C$2 billi
on in interest-free five-year loans, the Post calculates.
Among mainland Chinese, at least 60.3 per cent of arrivals in BC practised the a
pparent deception. And because mainland Chinese dominated the IIP, they represen
ted 86.8 per cent of all apparent deceivers.
The Post's data represents the first effort to publicly quantify the scale of th
e illicit practice.
An immigration expert in Canada, who did not wish to be named, blamed consultant
s in China for encouraging immigrants to practise the deception.
"Some advise the applicants to travel to Quebec, then do a nominal registration
there, but then go and live wherever they want. In my experience, that happens q
uite often," he said.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada was given a week to scrutinise the SCMP s calcu
lations and did not dispute their accuracy. Asked in writing if it was previousl
y aware of the scale of the deception, whether it was fair on BC, and whether th
ose who practised the deception should be punished, CIC spokeswoman Nancy Caron
said only: Immigrants are expected to settle in the province to which they apply.
Details of a new wealth-based migration scheme to replace the IIP would be unvei
led in the coming months , Caron added.

Quebec. Immigrants could simply argue tha t they truthfully intended to move to. say.While Canada requires immigrants to accurately state their intended destination province. this pledge is difficult to enforce. Preventing a permanent resident from living where they choose would likely breac h the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. . but upon arrival in Canada i mmediately changed their minds and decided to live in BC.