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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The trial for two siblings facing multiple charges under the Immigration and Refugee Act started Tuesday in Charlottetown.
Ping Zhong and her brother, Yi Zhong, appeared before Chief Judge Nancy Orr in provincial court for the first day of an eight-day trial.
The charges relate to allegations the Sherwood Motel owners provided fake P.E.I. addresses to Chinese immigrants seeking permanent residency.
Yi Zhong is charged with four counts of counselling, aiding and abetting misrepresentation under the Immigration and Refugee Act.
Ping Zhong is facing two counts, and the siblings are charged jointly with one count of the same offence.
The federal Crown’s first witness was Canadian Border Services Agency investigator Lana Hicks, who spent the day reading from various immigration documents on which different permanent residents put their addresses.
In each case, the applicants were approved under P.E.I.’s provincial nominee program to receive their permanent residency.
Throughout the day, Ping Zhong sat behind her lawyers while a translator spoke quietly to her brother next to the defence table.
Hicks testified that she started an investigation in March 2015 about the possible smuggling of a high-value watch through Stanfield International Airport in Halifax.
When she did checks and tried to locate witnesses, she found those people were destined for P.E.I., Hicks said.
Hicks testified she looked up one of the people and called a number on file for them.
A man answered the phone as the Sherwood Motel in Charlottetown and Hicks said she was told the person she was looking for wasn’t there.
Hicks said as she continued the investigation she got two production orders and several search warrants.
When the investigators executed the warrants, they seized items from four locations, including the Sherwood Motel.
The documents Hicks read from during her testimony included letters for good-faith deposits PNP applicants paid to show they intended to stay in P.E.I.
All of the applicants referred to in court defaulted on their deposits, and documents Hicks read in court said they didn’t land in P.E.I., so the province didn’t have an address for them on file.
Landing is a term used in relation to someone’s permanent residence status.
Other documents Hicks read included permanent residency renewals.
Some of the documents Hicks read from listed Charlottetown or, more specifically, 281 Brackley Point Rd., which is the location of the Sherwood Motel, as the applicants’ address while others listed addresses in different provinces.
Hicks also testified about Canada Post receipts found in one unit of the motel that showed Yi Zhong mailed things to the PNP applicants, although she didn’t know what was sent.
The trial continues Wednesday.
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