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Former PC Alberta MLA facing immigrant fraud-related charges after gaming student permits

These charges come as a result of a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) criminal investigation into the activities of former Alberta MLA Carlito (Carl) Benito and his son Charles Benito.

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be accurate.

Dylan Gibbons Montreal, QC

On September 3, the Government of Canada released information about two Edmonton men facing immigrant fraud-related charges. The charges are related to their operation of a foreign workers employment system that gamed the Canadian education sector to keep their workers in Canada.

These charges come as a result of a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) criminal investigation into the activities of former Progressive Conservative Alberta MLA Carlito (Carl) Benito and his son Charles Benito.

The investigation found that the two were allegedly employing unauthorized foreign nationals at Triple Maple Leaf Canada Corporation, Helping Migrants Canadian Immigration Corporation, and World Immigration Group Corporation, from November 2015 to October 2016.

Both Benitos leveraged their positions as licensed immigration consultants to council their temporary foreign workers on how to apply for student permits, despite none of the workers being students and having no intention of ever going to school. The CBSA found that this was done to ensure that their workers stay in Canada indefinitely along with their workers’ spouses.

The pair, with help from various associates, went so far as to acquire short-term cash loans up to $17,000 so that workers could meet the financial requirements of the study permit application. According to the CBSA, this operation occurred between November 2015 and June 2018.

“The CBSA takes this matter very seriously and works closely with our partners, including Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, to identify, investigate and prosecute those engaging in immigration fraud to profit from vulnerable individuals,” states Andrew Klatt, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigations Section, Canada Border Services Agency.

During the investigation, the CBSA also filed and executed on Carl Benito’s house, which ended in a raid on June 28, 2018 and the seizure of over $255,000 cash from three safes.

“Authority to execute the warrant was granted on June 27 following an application by border officials that outlined three-years worth of suspected fraudulent activities conducted through the operations of Carl Benito and his son Charles Benito in immigration consultancy businesses Triple Maple Leaf Canada, World Immigration Group, and Helping Migrants Canadian Immigration Group,” the Edmonton Journal reported.

Investigators began their probe in March, conducting a number of interviews with clients and educational institutions, and conducting various surveillance operations.

According to the Edmonton Journal, “Investigators waited outside the Benito residence in hopes of conducting a “garbage pull” on April 18, but because the trash was not brought to the curb they weren’t successful.

“Instead, they allege they were able to track Charles Benito to the Helping Migrants office in a conference room at Ramada Hotel Edmonton South at 5359 Calgary Trail. An officer who attended the office reported that the space had no document storage, which led them to believe all documents were being stored at the Benitos’ residence.”

Benito, at the time, was also alleged to have encouraged his clients to “intentionally make errors while applying for work permit extension, which gives the client “implied status,” allowing them to prolong their stay in Canada.”

“Within approximately one hour, $17,000 transited through three of Benito’s clients’ bank accounts” on Jan. 28, 2016, the search warrant states,” reports CBC. “On April 21, 2016, within approximately half an hour, $17,000 transited between two of Benito’s clients’ bank accounts. All five of these clients were applying for study permits.”

“Five clients were interviewed and found to have misrepresented their study permit applications,” and a further 79 foreign nationals have been identified as “obtaining study permits for the Academy of Learning or MaKami College through Benito and his companies but did not attend school.”

Despite not attending school, the workers each allegedly worked over 20 hours a week.

Furthermore, Benito,  who is Filipino himself, also allegedly personally employed other Filipino immigrants as workers while working as an immigration consultant.

“During this time, five foreign nationals without legal status in Canada were observed parking outside the Ramada Edmonton South and entering the business centre location, and remaining there for much of the day and returned again on subsequent days,” the search warrant application states.

65-year-old Carlito Benito now faces 9 counts of unauthorized employment of foreign nationals, 2 counts of counselling/aiding/abetting misrepresentation, 1 count of counselling/aiding/abetting/ misrepresentation related to study permit loan scheme with 90 documented occurrences, 1 count of misrepresentation, and 1 count of mischief.

25-year-old Charles Jefferson Benito has been charged with 9 counts of unauthorized employment of foreign nationals, 2 counts of counselling/aiding/abetting misrepresentation, and 1 count of counselling/aiding/abetting/ misrepresentation related to study permit loan scheme with 90 documented occurrences.

The Benitos’ are scheduled to make their first court appearance this year on September 5 in the Edmonton Provincial Court.

The Post Millennial has requested comment from the CBSA.

CBSA Media Spokesperson Jacqueline Callin responded, saying, “It would be inappropriate for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to comment further as the matter is before the courts.

“Immigration fraud threatens the integrity of Canada’s borders and immigration system. The CBSA takes this issue very seriously and works closely with its partners to identify, investigate and prosecute those engaging in immigration fraud to the full extent of the law.”

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