Migrante Alberta calls for cancellation of license, criminal charges filed against immigration consultant Carl Benito
Migrante lauds the move by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council to suspend Carl Benito’s license pending investigation. He is yet to face criminal charges despite his offenses that exploited vulnerable immigrants.
It is with utmost rage that the former Conservative government official and now immigration consultant remains to practice as such and without any criminal charges filed against him despite his alleged fraudulent activities.
The exposé of the alleged fraudulent nature of immigration consultancy in light of the investigation of former government official has brought to the fore a layer of immigration in Canada that has long been criticized as flawed.
Migrante Alberta first issued warning against immigration consultants with alleged fraudulent activities during the time when then Immigration Minister Jason Kenny, now the leader of the United Conservative Party issued a moratorium on the temporary foreign workers in 2014. Many immigration consultants preyed on these desperate temporary foreign workers. The warning was triggered by reports from its members and supporters.
Yet the former Progressive Conservative MLA has no criminal charges filed against him despite extensive covert investigations conducted by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Victims of his fraud are yet to find justice.
According to an extensive CBC report, the raid by CBSA in June yielded some $255,000 in cash from three safes. Benito operated three immigration consultancy businesses namely Triple Maple Leaf Canada, World Immigration Group, and Helping Migrants Canadian Immigration Group.
One of his alleged schemes is putting in money in the sum of $17,000 up to $20,000, in exchange of $250 to $450 fee, into his victims’ bank account, allowing them to provide proof of their ability to finance their studies and accommodation in Canada.
Benito also misled his migrant workers whose status are in limbo by counseling them to submit incomplete applications to remain in Canada, in order to stay longer and work under implied status.
Benito’s unscrupulous activities preying on dire needs of migrants show how easily migrants are exploited. Because of the different layers that make them highly vulnerable to abuses – policy changes in migration, backlog in permanent status applications, abuses at their workplaces – migrants are lured into paying huge sums of money only to receive false promises.
This scandal in the Filipino community is just the tip of the iceberg. It exposed a lucrative industry that has been growing in the last 20 years from the backs of migrant workers desperate to stay in Canada.
Migrante Alberta is again cautioning migrants in accepting “too good to be true” consultancy services, especially from known agents with tarnished reputations. The group advises migrants with immigration issues to seek support services offered by agencies in the community that provide information, for free before they seek services from lawyers in good standing.
The group calls on the Federal government to:
1. Impose tougher sanctions on agents who are proven to exploit migrants for their own gains.
2. Review the investigation practices of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). The ICCRC is a private licensing and self-regulating / self-governing agency that have no government oversight.
3. The Federal Government must consider amending IRPA section 91 to permit representation for compensation only by lawyers who are members in good standing of a law society in Canada as per the 2017 recommendation by the Canadian Bar Association.
4. Create a “black list” of consultants that continue to violate Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and put the migrants in precarious situation.
5. Protect the victims of these consultants by ensuring that they have legal status while cases against their consultants are being investigated.
The group also calls on the Provincial government to:
1. Create a separate policy under the Alberta Consumer Protection Act that deals with immigration consultants and agents
2. Impose heavy fines to immigration consultants and agents that have proven in violation of the Consumer Protection Act of Alberta.
3. The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act must be extended to the victims of these immigration consultants and agents.
4. As well, a more robust mechanism for reporting and investigation should be implemented to protect migrants’ interest – which will also serve as a stern warning to immigration consultants who are preying on this vulnerable sector.(Migrante Alberta)
Meanwhile, Pinoy Edmonton News Service emailed Carl Benito for a response and p.e.n. received an email from Helping Migrants office staff Hermo Pagtakhan who issued the following statement:
“It is very sad that Aspersion has been unfortunately cast against my Friend Carl Benito. This is a Classic example of Sensationalized Journalism. If you read the full Article you will note it just contains pure allegations not proven in Court. In fact, the Reporter admits it and makes that Disclaimer himself. Unfortunately, he makes it at the very end. Most people nowadays just read Headlines and don’t bother to read the FULL Story. Folks, I have been helping Carl for over a Month now and I am a DIRECT WITNESS on HOW he conducts his Consulting Service with UTMOST TRANSPARENCY and WITHIN LEGAL BOUNDS and I can ATTEST that during the Period I have been helping him, I have not witnessed anything illegal with way he serves his Clients nor in the way he conducts his Business.
To me one very clear INDICATOR that Carl has has NOT done anything illegal with respect to his Consulting Business is the FACT that despite the lapse of more than 2 Months now since they executed the Search and Seizure Warrant, NO CHARGES have been laid against Carl.
What is Sad about all this is “THE STING HAS BEEN CAST BUT THE ASPERSION REMAINS”.
Office Staff, Edmonton Branch