The RCMP have broken up a group allegedly making fake citizenship documents.
Stewart Bell, National Post · Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
TORONTO — The RCMP has arrested a Quebec immigration consultant accused of providing Canadian citizenship documents to hundreds of people in the Middle East so they could collect benefits and tax refunds from Ottawa.
Ahmad El-Akhal, 62, was arrested Thursday morning following a 2-1/2-year investigation by the RCMP’s Immigration and Passport and Commercial Crimes sections. His wife was also arrested as well as a suspected accomplice in Mississauga.
The alleged fraud ring is accused of securing immigrant status and citizenship for more than 300 residents of Lebanon and other Middle East countries and then helping them bilk the Canadian government of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Once they received documents this guy would fill out the tax returns and documents to get benefits back in the names of these people,” said RCMP Sgt. Marc LaPorte. “They were getting tax refunds, Goods and Services Tax rebates, child credit tax benefits, so the whole gamut.”
Mr. El-Akhal, who lives in L’ile-Bizard, Que., has been charged with 58 counts including forgery and fraud. His wife Tahani Mohamad Hassan El-Akhal, 53, was charged with possession of proceeds obtained by crime in the amount of $155,000.
Also charged was Mississauga resident Hassan Ali Saif, 44, who faces three charges under the Citizenship Act. “He was the leasor of some of the residences. And also he forged lease agreements and created mail addresses for these people. He actually collected the mail and gathered the information and sent it back to Montreal,” Sgt. LaPorte said.
All three are to appear in court in Brampton on Friday.
The alleged crimes go back as far as 1999. The investigation began in 2008 after Citizenship and Immigration Canada noticed that 320 permanent residence applicants had given the same 29 home addresses in Canada.
The RCMP traced 260 of the applications and found they were all linked to Mr. El-Akhal. None of those who secured citizenship and government benefits through Mr. El-Akhal actually lived in Canada.
“Basically, this individual passed himself off as an immigration consultant and assisted these people in obtaining permanent resident status and submitted the applications for them,” said Sgt. LaPorte, the RCMP spokesman for Ontario.
The Canada Revenue Agency was also involved.
“The RCMP alleges that several hundred foreign nationals not residing in Canada used fraudulent means to obtain Canadian Citizenship and Canadian travel documents,” the RCMP said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
“In addition, it is alleged that false Income Tax returns were filed for individuals, allowing them to receive improperly benefits and tax refunds from the Canada Revenue Agency of approximately $500,000.”