November 2023 \ Diaspora News \ INDO-CANADIAN RELATIONS

Toronto: An Indian-origin man has been fined $20,000 for his role in a scheme that charged newcomers tens of thousands for permits to work in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Avtar Singh Sohi, 42, pleaded guilty in October to misrepresentation under the Canada Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the CBC News channel reported. The Provincial Court of Manitoba heard that Avtar provided a woman with pay stubs to show she was working for him as a nanny from March 2019 to July 2021 while she was illegally employed elsewhere.

In addition, he also provided her with a number of signed documents that she used as part of her permanent residency application. The woman, an Indian national, came to Canada on a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is issued after a need for a temporary foreign worker is demonstrated because there is no citizen or permanent resident available to do the job. “His behaviour erodes the trust of our immigration system and must be denounced and deterred,” federal crown attorney Matt Sinclair said.

Sinclair told the court that in September 2019 the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) received information about Avtar’s brother Hartar Singh Sohi, an immigration consultant and owner of Abroad Immigration. In March 2021, CBSA investigators executed search warrants at three properties connected with Abroad Immigration and Education Services -- a Winnipeg company that arranges permanent residency for newcomers in Canada.

Court heard that during the search, the investigators found a work permit issued for an Indian national authorising her to work as a nanny for Avtar and his wife. After surveilling the woman, the investigators found she was working at another place without authorization. During questioning, the woman said that her family paid $40,000 for her LMIA, but when she arrived in Canada, she was told there was no job for her.

“She was told that if she wanted to take pay stubs to show that she’d been working for Avtar Sohi as a nanny, she could use them to support an application for permanent residence, but she’d have to pay for the paystubs,” the CBC reported quoting Sinclair. Marty Minuk, Avtar’s lawyer, said his client had nothing to do with whatever agreement the foreign national had with Abroad Immigration.

“Clearly, whatever was set up, was set up to have Mr Avtar Sohi get involved in some matter that he really knew nothing about and now he’s suffering consequences of it,” Minuk told the court. CBSA alleged in its January 2022 court filings that Avtar and his wife aided Hartar in the “misrepresentation of information on immigration applications”.

Further, the couple used their home construction company to invest the money received by Hartar to purchase and renovate homes, which according to CBSA, was done to hide the origin of the funds. Between November 2016 and January 2020, the Sohis and their companies deposited C$783,827.45 and $9,600 in their bank accounts, according to the filed documents.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Hartar but it doesn’t appear he’s been officially charged in the case, the CBC reported, adding that it has been told that he fled to India. Avtar, a father of two children, has been living in Canada since 2006. The prosecution had argued for a penalty of $50,000 and/or two years in jail for Avtar.

Tags: Canada