Fil-Canadian ex-lawmaker and son plead guilty to immigration fraud
A Filipino Canadian former member of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly and his son pleaded guilty at the last minute to committing immigration fraud, Wednesday, Oct. 5.
Progressive Conservative former MLA from Edmonton Carlito “Carl” Benito and his son, Charles, admitted that for two years starting July 2016, their three immigration consulting service firms illegally employed eight Filipino nationals who were not authorized to work in Canada because their temporary worker permits had expired.
Their consulting firms were Triple Maple Leaf Canada (TMLC), World Immigration Group Corporation (WIGC) and Helping Migrants Canadian Immigration Corp.
Before their seven-week jury trial began on Wednesday morning in Court of King’s Bench, the Benitos entered last-minute guilty pleas, reported CBC News. They will be sentenced on October 14.
A Court document states that the eight Filipino nationals had expired work permits, and four had also been ordered to leave Canada. The Benitos asked them to sign papers stating they were unpaid volunteers in their firms; they were actually paid less than the $10 per hour minimum wage off the books twice a week.
One employee, who worked as Carl Benito’s Calgary office manager, had been ordered to leave Canada on March 2018 due to an expired work permit. Benito charged her thousands of dollars over three years for multiple applications to stay, according to the document. Her mother and sons in the Philippines depended on her remittances.
Another Benito “employee,” who was jobless and with an order to leave the country, paid the Benitos $3,000 of the $5,000 they were charging for helping him apply for permanent residency. This employee was still working for the Benitos in 2018 when immigration authorities raided their home and office, according to CBC News.
The Benitos were also guilty of helping undocumented clients apply for study permits and misrepresent their ability to support themselves by showing they had about $17,000 in their bank account.
“Many clients had been working in Canada to send money home to family in the Philippines and had very little to no savings in Canada,” the court document states. To clients that did not have $17,000 “show money,” Carl Benito offered “a short-term $17,000 loan for a fee,” charging between $200 to $500 for the “loan.”
A client would be driven to a bank to transfer the loan to the client’s account and get a printed bank statement. They reversed the transaction in another branch hours later.