Home Canada Warrants executed in June targeted 2 P.E.I. farm businesses suspected of illegal acts

Warrants executed in June targeted 2 P.E.I. farm businesses suspected of illegal acts

by News Desk
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Federal investigators earlier this year believed two farmers in PEI East were involved in an illegal scheme to trick foreign workers by charging them “large sums of money” for jobs that didn’t exist. told court officials.

Canadian Nectar Products and Island Gold Honey with Montague addresses were named in a search warrant executed by Canadian Border Services Agency agents on June 21 of this year.

The search warrant alleges that the workers were lured to Prince Edward Island with the promise of employment and the opportunity to obtain permanent residency in Canada.

Upon arrival in the state, workers were told they had little to no work, but were issued fraudulent payslips amid allegations of immigration and refugee protection law violations.

In some cases, workers claim they were forced to return their airfare to Canada and told to “hide the truth” about their employment contracts if questioned by authorities.

Workers also claim they were forced to sign letters of resignation or documents they did not understand.

Roger O’Neal is shown far right in this 2017 file photo. He, then president of the PEI Beekeepers Association, and his industry insiders had called on the province to inspect his 100% of hives imported from Ontario. (Isabella Zabalise/CBC)

Roger O’Neill, owner of the company that produces Island Gold Honey, and Kamalpreet Kaila, who was identified as the owner of Canadian Nectar products, are key figures in the ongoing investigation by the Canadian Border Services Agency. is nominated as

Canadian Nectar Products has been operating an apple orchard in PEI East for about eight years.

Khaira is also the named owner of CWC Immigration Solutions in Brampton, Ontario. Described as an immigration consulting firm with offices in British Columbia and abroad.

Gourmand Grewal, a former Conservative MP from British Columbia, was also a joint owner of Canadian Nectar Products at one point and is so listed in the search warrant application. However, he emailed the CBC this week, saying, “I am not a co-owner of Canadian Nectar products and have not been involved since 2017. Therefore, I am unaware of their questionable business practices on this matter. .”

Former liberal MP Sheila Kops, an early supporter of the project in 2014, said she wanted to visit Prince Edward Island and help make the state the “apple capital of the world.” . Her name is not included in court documents.

Canadian Nectar Products’ offices in Montagu’s Down East Mall closed at 10:45 am on a Wednesday last August and went dark. Company information for Fruits Canada and Atlantic Canada Nursery was also on the office door. (Carolyn Ryan/CBC)

The claims contained in these documents, which a Canadian Border Services Agency representative outlined to PEI State Court Judge Jeff Lantz in a closed session seeking the warrant, have not been proven in court.

The Canadian Border Services Agency confirmed by email this Wednesday that no charges have been filed in this matter. “This is still under investigation,” the email continued. “CBSA is Personal Information Protection Law We cannot comment on or provide details about specific individual cases or persons unless an indictment has been formally filed. “

CBC News made repeated attempts to contact O’Neill and Kyra.

O’Neill returned the call and said, “No comment.” Kayla didn’t respond.

first sealed by the court

Although the 41 pages supporting the search warrant request had been sealed by the court at the time the warrant was granted, CBC News declined to make them available to the media in the public interest concerned. I applied. The judge agreed to redact some information and order the release.

The document contains allegations of misconduct by CBSA investigators as the CBSA sought permission from the court to search and potentially seize evidence from buildings, offices, computers, phones and vehicles used in agricultural operations. is included.

During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Kaila was charging foreigners large sums of money in exchange for jobs related to the non-existent PEI agricultural industry.— Search warrant application form

According to the allegations contained in the document, “during the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Kayla was soliciting large sums of money from foreigners in exchange for jobs related to the non-existent PEI agricultural industry.”

“O’Neill appears to be working closely with Kamalpreet Kaila to deceive foreigners and Canadian authorities … This includes submitting work permit applications for non-existent jobs and exchanging cash from foreigners. including making false pay statements.”

The documents allege that O’Neil and Kyra “misrepresented or concealed material facts” in their dealings with immigration officials.

The CBSA investigation began last November after the federal government received information from The Cooper Institute, a Charlottetown-based organization that advocates for fair treatment of foreign workers, according to the documents.

The information related to complaints from workers regarding the living conditions and employment provided by Island Gold Honey.

Cooper Institute’s Eliza McLachlan, the think tank that brought the Canadian Border Services Agency’s attention to how workers are being treated. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

“Immigration consultancies, certain firms that work with temporary foreign workers, can be highly exploitative,” said Eliza McLachlan, program coordinator at the Cooper Institute. The only relationship they have with someone in Canada can often be with their employer, so they are very dependent on them.”

“Living conditions were terrible”

CBSA investigators interviewed seven workers who arrived from abroad last August after accepting a job offer from Island Gold Honey.

“all [redacted] Citizens complained of poor living conditions, according to the document.

Upon arrival in Charlottetown, workers were quarantined at a local motel, but were not paid for the quarantine time required under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

All complainants told CBSA that they never actually worked for Island Gold Honey and were instead brought to PEI’s Canadian Nectar Products offices on Peters Road, Ariston.

In a subsequent interview, one worker told investigators that he had been recruited to work at Island Gold Honey through an overseas consulting firm. The person paid the company his US$50,000 to help him find a job.

After arriving at PEI in October 2021, the workers were taken to live on the farm while jobs were arranged. Two months later, the worker was still not hired.

Another worker told CBSA that he had called O’Neill numerous times without answering, and that no one at Island Gold reached out to him after the person arrived in Canada. was directed to Canadian nectar products.

Workers hired through the Harvest and Prosper pilot project are pruning trees for Canadian Nectar Products in 2018. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Khaira, the operator of Canadian Nectar Products, said it could only provide 20 hours a week instead of the full-time promised by Island Gold Honey, workers said. However, workers were told they would be issued pay slips showing they were being paid full-time wages.

Employees also said they were forced to sign resignations.

In April, CBSA investigators spoke with a worker who said he was recruited by Kamalpreet Kaila for a job at a company called Atlantic Canada Nurseries in PEI’s Belle River as a PEI farm worker. He pays Khaira in installments he pays $50,000.

According to the document, after arriving at PEI, the workers were taken to the Atlantic Canada Nursery and were “shocked to find there was no company, completely flat land, and only one house on the land. It was not a nursery.”

Kamalpreet Kaila told workers that he owns both a nursery and Canadian Nectar Products and that workers could be employed in CNP’s apple orchards. According to allegations contained in the search warrant, Kaila told workers that he had to hide the fact that he was picking apples and that he was not working in the nursery.

Payment Complaint

Some workers told investigators that Canadian Nectar Products demanded the return of airfare for flights to Canada. It is said that they did not refund.

One complainant told investigators he was told to pay Canadian Nectar Products $1,200 every two weeks. I received a check for

One of the orchard rows at Canadian Nectar Products. (Al McCormick/CBC)

Another petitioner notified Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, saying they had been subjected to psychological and economic abuse. can be searched.

A common concern among petitioners was how their employment status would affect their efforts to obtain permanent residency in Canada, according to the documents. They feared deportation and felt pressure to comply with corporate demands to remain in Canada.

Working conditions outlined

According to the search warrant, CBSA investigators investigated the business activities of Island Gold Honey from April 30, 2020 to June 21, 2022.

In October 2020, Island Gold Honey received work permit approval for 27 farm workers and 3 farm supervisors. The permit was valid for two years. Farm workers were to work 40 hours a week for $12.85 an hour. Supervisors were to be paid $16.84 an hour.

CBSA investigators were interested in Canadian nectar products business activities over the five-year period from February 28, 2017 to June 21, 2022.

In 2017, Canadian Nectar Products received work permit approval to employ 1 secretary, 30 farm workers and 15 farm supervisors. Wages ranged from $11.25 an hour for workers to $19.50 an hour for secretaries.

In 2019, the company was approved for a nine-month, $40 hourly work permit for marketing managers. In June 2020 and he in July, the company received approval to hire his 15 farm supervisors and his 1 marketing manager.

Canadian Nectar Products was incorporated in PEI in 2013. (Al McCormick/CBC)

In December 2021, CBSA investigators on PEI conducted a “drive-by” at Island Gold Honey and Canadian Nectar Products. Investigators reported no evidence of labor activity at the site under surveillance.

CBSA investigators also conducted surveillance on:

  • Outside the CWC Immigration Solutions offices in a strip mall in Brampton, Ontario.
  • At the Aton Gateway Business Solutions office at 535 North River Rd. in Charlottetown.
  • An office in Montagu’s Down East Mall was ostensibly occupied by 102045 PEI Inc., also known as Canadian Nectar Products, Atlantic Canada Nursery and Fruits Canada.

Also search vehicles

According to the search warrant, CWC Immigration Solutions is the subject of “several complaints made against CBSA.”

A search of 7 vehicles is allowed.

  • Ford F-150 pickup truck with PEI plate belonging to CWC Immigration Solutions.
  • Ford Explorer owned by Canadian Nectar Products.
  • 2006 Infiniti owned by Fruit Canada.
  • A Dodge Ram with Alberta plates owned by Roger O’Neill.
  • A 2021 white Mercedes with Ontario plates owned by CWC Immigration Solutions.
  • Dodge Grand Caravan.
  • A Toyota Rav 4 owned by an individual whose name is redacted in the document.

Investigators say they also received information from the federal government through Service Canada. Employment and Social Development Canada; and Immigration, Refugees and Canadian Citizenship. They also relied on information from He FINTRAC, a federal agency set up to combat money laundering and other financial crimes.

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