A Yukon hotel is being sued over an alleged immigration scam involving millions of dollars invested by Chinese citizens.
The Elite Hotel and Travel Ltd. on Lambert Street is named in a lawsuit filed March 20 in Yukon Supreme Court.
The lawsuit alleges would-be immigrants invested in the hotel as a way of improving their chances of coming to the Yukon but were instead given fraudulent documents.
The plaintiffs, Ningbo Zhelun Overseas Immigration Service Co. Ltd. and Mega International Labor and Immigration Services Inc., filed a similar lawsuit in British Columbia Supreme Court in November 2016.
Zhelun is an immigration consulting company based in China. According to the lawsuit, it partnered in 2012 with another immigration consulting company, USA-Canada International Investment Inc. (UCII), based in B.C.
According to the statement of claim, Zhelun would market UCII’s services in China and once it found clients would prepare immigration documentations for them. The documents would then be sent to UCII for “improvement, processing and submission to the Canadian authorities,” the lawsuit reads.
Because a number of immigration programs were aimed at attracting business investors and entrepreneurs, Zhelun also helped clients transfer funds to UCII.
Zhelun in turn would get a commission for every applicant who wanted to invest, immigrate or visit Canada.
In late 2013, Tzuchun Chang approached Zhelun and presented the Yukon Business Nomination Program as an “easy program through which potential client-investors could immigrate to Canada,” the lawsuit reads.
The program requirements, she told them, were minimal in comparison to other nominee programs across Canada, including on language proficiency testing.
Once Zehlun had prepared all the immigration documents, UCII would apply to the Yukon government for the nomination certificates.
If the application is successful, the nominees receive a two-year work permit allowing them and their business to move to the Yukon. After the two years, if the nominee meets certain criteria, the Yukon government will sponsor their permanent residency applications.
According to the Yukon government, the Yukon Business Nomination Program is designed to “attract and retain skilled international entrepreneurs.”
To be eligible the government relies on an assessment grid that gives points based on investment value, liquid assets, age, business skills, education and other criteria.
The higher the investment value and the liquid assets were, the more points the applications would earn.
According to the lawsuit, Chang directed some of Zhelun’s clients’ money to the Elite Hotel.
The lawsuit lists other names Chang goes by, including Joyce Chuang, Zhijun Chueng and T.C. Chang.
According to information from the Yukon Corporate Online Registry, Joyce Chang is the president and director of the Elite Hotel. She is also the director of Yukon Resources Investment according to the company’s 2016 filing. But in 2015 it lists its director as “T.C. Chang.”
The lawsuit doesn’t make it clear what relationship Chang had with UCII, if any.
By summer 2015, Zhelun claims it had invested over $4 million on behalf of 28 clients to UCII.
But in June that year, 60 applicants, most of whom applied through Zhelun, were called from an interview in Hong Kong with Canadian authorities.
Canadian officials told them their certificates of nomination, that were supposed to be issued by the Yukon government, were fake or invalid, and that their permanent residency applications had been denied. Some of those clients also learned they could be subject to a five-year ban from applying to immigrate or visit Canada.
Under the agreement between Zhelun and UCII, each application cost $50,000 for “legal and program management fees” the clients had to pay to UCII.
For immigration programs that required business investments, clients were required to make one-time investments between $120,000 and $250,000.
Were the applications to fail, UCII would reimburse the fees and return the investment, the lawsuit says.
That didn’t happen, Zhelun claims.
Chang told them the certificates were legitimate and that the applicants could re-apply to get their permanent residencies, the court document alleges.
“(Chang) also explained that UCII was not able to repay the amounts, upon request, as they had been invested in various businesses in accordance with the YBNP,” the lawsuit reads.
Zhelun wants Yukon Supreme Court to issue an injunction against the defendants to prevent them from disposing of the investments. Zhelun isn’t seeking a specific amount of money, but the company is asking for special damages on top of the money owed.
Zhelun also wants to register two certificates of pending litigation against two condominiums Chang owns, for $239,000 each, and against four units of the Elite Hotel worth over $2.4 million in total.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Neither Chang, her lawyer or UCII returned the News’ calls by deadline.
The lawsuit alleges both the RCMP and the Canada Border Service Agency started investigating UCII in the summer of 2016. Neither B.C. RCMP nor the CBSA would confirm that.
Zhelun’s lawyer told the News both B.C. and Yukon lawsuits would proceed at the same time and that they were in the process of serving all the defendants.
Contact Pierre Chauvin at email@example.com