A $90,000 fine was leveled against an Oliver man’s company for the part it played in a province-wide immigration fraud scheme.
Randhir Toor, of Toor Vineyards appeared in Penticton court for sentencing on Feb. 16.
Randhir Toor and Toor Vineyards were charged as part of a criminal investigation into a large Lower Mainland immigration fraud scheme perpetrated by Can-Asia.
The company, Toor Vineyards, pleaded guilty to seven out of the 18 counts of providing or attempting to provide counsel to misrepresent in violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, while Toor himself pleaded guilty to two of the 10 counts of owning a firearm without a license or registration.
Across the multiple applications for foreign workers, 18 foreign nationals were granted work permits, eight had their permits refused and one failed to apply. Only two of the temporary workers actually worked at the vineyard.
Judge Gregory Koturbash leveled a $90,000 fine on Toor Vineyards, and reserved his decision on Toor himself for the firearm charges for a later date, in order to articulate his decision.
During the investigation, $60,000 in cash was seized by the RCMP and will be returned to Toor as part of the joint submission. Other materials not explicitly presented in court were requested to be forfeited as offence-related property.
Toor Vineyard was involved with Can-Asia with the creation of positive labour market impact assessments (LMIA) that were used to obtain temporary and permanent immigration status to Canada for foreign nationals in exchange for payment.
The situation had come about after Toor had previously gone to Can-Asia for legitimate assistance in completing the LMIA’s to get workers on the recommendation of a friend. Can-Asia would come through with getting the workers, and Toor and the owner would later become friends, according to Toor’s lawyer.
“Mr. Batth told Mr. Toor that if he helped make some made-up positions for his clients, he promised he would get Mr. Toor all the future farmworkers he would ever need,” Toor’s lawyer told the courts. “He told Mr. Toor that it wasn’t criminal, it was just a way to get around the system that made it hard for people to come here, and that Mr. Toor would be helping other immigrants just like himself.”
Can-Asia had created a fake email address and postings for jobs that did not exist, impersonating Toor and creating false documents. Advertisements were created for positions that were either already filled or weren’t required, in order to create justification for seeking foreign workers. Toor Vineyard was aware of the email address, and the fake job postings per the joint submission.
As part of the scheme, Toor Vineyards avoided communication with Employment and Social Development Canada for immigration verification interviews, and participated in payroll cycling. Toor claimed that by the point the payroll cycling had come up, he felt that he was already too entrenched in the situation that he could not refuse.
The payroll cycling involved falsified pay stubs, paycheques, tax documents and proof of employment, and Can-Asia provided $47,550 to pass through Toor Vineyards for three fake employees who never worked at the vineyard between 2015 and 2018.
The three had filed for permanent residence, with one application still pending, and the other two were refused.
On June 6, 2018, while executing the search warrant on Toor’s residence for the immigration investigation, officers found a box with three firearms, including two Smith and Wesson revolvers which Toor had previously had a license to own. The licenses had expired in 2016, and at the time, Toor had been an Auxillary RCMP officer for 27 years.
An additional firearm, and additional prohibited barrels for the firearms, were also found during the search. Toor only pleaded guilty to the two Smith and Wesson revolvers.
Those charges have been adjourned pending the decision of the judge.
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