Confederation Centre library
The Confederation Centre of the Arts is dissolving two companies it created solely in order to access money from the province’s immigrant investment program.
The money is all but spent, so the directors of Centretours Inc. and Centreworks Inc. — who are also the primary board members of the Confederation Centre — have served notice of their intent to dissolve these two subsidiary companies.
“There’s no need to have them anymore,” said Jodi Zver, chief financial officer for the Confederation Centre.
“There’s no need to keep paying administrative and audit fees every year when we don’t need them.”
The now defunct investor stream of Prince Edward Island’s Provincial Nominee Program has faced a storm of controversy since 2008, when it came to light the federal government was shutting it down. The feds were upset at the way in which P.E.I. was nominating immigrants for permanent residency in Canada who invested in local companies but did not take an active role in those companies.
After the province found out P.E.I.’s program would soon be closed, it pushed through as many applications as possible.
In 2009, the auditor general found provincial officials broke a number of rules during this time, including approving companies for investment that did not qualify.
One of these rules stipulated non-profit organizations were not eligible for PNP investments.
That’s why the Confederation Centre created Centreworks on May 1, 2008, and Centretours on June 11, 2008.
“They were created back in 2008 specifically to access the Provincial Nominee Program,” Zver said in an interview with The Guardian.
“Our legal status is non-profit, but many of our activities are profit-driven, so the activities that we undertake were eligible activities to be funded. We just needed the vehicle by which to do it, and that was the two subsidiary, for-profit companies.”
Another rule of the PNP put a limit on the number of investments any one company owner could receive.
Four investments, known as units, was the maximum. If one individual or organization owned more than one company, the limit for that owner was still four — a rule meant to keep owners of multiple companies from cashing in on this program.
Somehow, despite the fact both Centretours and Centreworks both have the exact same directors and officers, each of these companies was granted four units — a financial windfall of approximately $150,000 for each company.
Zver could not explain how this happened.
“I know that we went through the proper channels and we were able to incorporate two companies and get eight units. That’s all I can say on it,” she said.
These eight units represented eight immigrant investors who all received permanent residency in Canada as a result of taking part in this program.
Zver acknowledges none of them ever took an active role in the companies, as they were “financial investors only.” She does not believe any of them ever came and met with local directors after they invested and she does not know if any of them are residing in P.E.I.
When asked about the optics of a non-profit organization, which also receives 35 per cent of its funding from the federal government, operating outside the established rules of the PNP in order to benefit financially, Zver remained firm the Confederation Centre followed all the proper channels.
“This money was not used for fraudulent purposes, it was used to help us meet our mandate and the development of new works,” she said.
“I don’t see any problems with it.”
The RCMP is currently reviewing P.E.I.’s PNP to determine whether there was any criminal activity involving the program or any of the 1,354 businesses that benefitted from it.
Zver said the Confederation Centre has not been contacted by the RCMP in relation to this probe.