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Court documents show investigators believed permanent residency cards mailed to motel for people who didn’t live there

The Sherwood Inn and Motel is seen in Charlottetown, P.E.I. on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. After a sweeping immigration probe, two Charlottetown hoteliers have been charged with helping set up fake addresses for Chinese immigrants who entered Prince Edward Island under a business program that has been criticized for lax oversight.
The Sherwood Motel in Charlottetown, shown earlier this spring, is at the centre of a Canada Border Services Agency immigration investigation involving the Provincial Nominee Program. – CP photo

Immigration documents, client files and business records were some of the items investigators were looking for when they sought search warrants in a case involving hundreds of immigrants using the same address at the Sherwood Motel.

Court documents show Canada Border Services Agency investigators were following the trail of what they believed were people using addresses connected to the motel and one of its owners.

Several cases included in an information to obtain a search warrant showed people who were applying for their permanent residency card renewal using the motel as their address despite not living there.

The Canada Border Services Agency charged motel co-owner Ping Zhong with three counts of aiding and abetting misrepresentation under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Her brother, Yi Zhong, who is also a co-owner, is facing five counts of the same alleged offence.

Documents filed with the court alleged hundreds of people gave federal agencies the motel or Ping Zhong’s home addresses as their mailing or residential addresses.

Last week during the daily question period in the legislature, Opposition MLAs repeatedly asked the government about the investigation.

That included questions about the legal impact if the federal government rescinds nominations under the Provincial Nominee Program and how many other addresses have hundreds of people using them.

Economic Development Minister Chris Palmer responded that the province was aware of 17 people using the motel as their address in the last six years.

He also said the allegations related to people who gave false information to the federal government, not the province.

In one case in a search warrant application, a woman met with a citizenship officer after writing her citizenship test in 2015.

Investigators said the woman listed her permanent address as a home she owned in Charlottetown.

A permanent residency card renewal application for the woman’s daughter was returned because it didn’t have a parent or guardian’s signature on it.

That application was mailed to the motel.

Land registry records showed the house was sold in 2014, which investigators said the woman didn’t disclose to the citizenship officer who asked if she still lived there.

The woman replied that she did.

Court documents show investigators believed permanent resident cards were going to the motel and re-mailed to clients, including some who were overseas.

The Zhongs are scheduled to appear in court on June 11.

Ryan.ross@theguardian.pe.ca
Twitter.com/ryanrross

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