For those of you not from Prince Edward Island, let me introduce you to a $400,000,000 scandal that is gradually picking up steam and will no doubt be making the news for some time.
The Executive Summary
- PEI has an Immigrant Nominee Program. Through this program someone from “away” can invest $200,000 into a business located on PEI and in turn get fast tracked to Canadian citizenship.
- Matching these investors with Island companies is done by private firms. Those firms take a handsome cut to facilitate the deal.
- The Provincial Government holds $25,000 in good faith. This is promised to be returned to the investors if they live on PEI for one full year.
- In the spring of 2008 it was announced that the program would be terminated in September of 2008 (last month).
- Between the announcement in the spring and the end of the program last month 2,000 investments were made. That is compared to the 100-300/year made during the previous years of the program.
- Total: $400,000,000 cash injected into PEI in only six months.
- Many immigrants who were involved in the program years ago have not seen their 25,000 good faith deposit returned to them. They are now protesting. The provincial government called the cops on the very peaceful protesters yesterday to get them removed from their office buildings at closing time.
- There are allegations of fraud. There are certain rules that are required to be followed for a company to qualify for an investment. For example real estate, construction, and professional service businesses do not qualify for investment. Qualified companies can only receive one or two rounds of investment. There are reports of businesses that do not qualify receiving investment, companies started for the sole purpose of receiving investment, and members of the local government being involved in businesses that have received investment that may not have been qualified. The RCMP have been called in.
- The provincial government is mucking about and is really playing this poorly.
First Hand Experience
- For the record silverorange, or any of our associated corporations (we have a few), have never received immigrant investment. We qualify, and we've had very serious debate about using the program, but we have never received any cash nor have we even applied. I'll make a post on this in the future as it's a whole story in an of itself.
- Earlier this summer I was approached by one of the immigrant investor brokers (private firm). His offices are on the same street as ours. I bumped into him outside one day. He asked what we did. I told him we have two main businesses 1) A web development company and 2) A real estate company. He said, and these were his words the best I can remember them:
The internet company qualifies without any issue. Real estate does not qualify but we're creative just like you.... and he winked at me. A good business, and perhaps relationship, rule-of-thumb. NEVER GET INVOLVED WITH SOMEONE WHO WINKS AT YOU.
There is a scandal of great proportions brewing. There are individuals who have gamed the system and should be investigated. There are also others who have been diligently following the rules of the program. The RCMP should investigate ALL brokers and all businesses who have received investment.
The provincial government should get their act together. Get translators right away and pay them whatever it takes to clear this up and regain the respect of those who have invested here in our province. Set up the big boardroom in their development office with the correct officials, translators, and paperwork. Start processing the immigrants whom they owe 25,000 to right away. Get them in one by one, do the paperwork. Cut a cheque if they qualify. Explain to them why they don't qualify through translators if they don't. If this isn't dealt with with dignity, wisdom, and speed PEI will get a lot of mud on its face.
The provincial government also needs to apologize to those protesters that they called the police on. Shame on them. They should apologize even if those who were protesting were there because of a misunderstanding.
There is one piece of information I can't seem to put my finger on. One of the protesters was quoted that he invested “$20,000 for a language deposit”. Does anyone know what that means and where that money goes or how it is used?
If anyone else has any information about this program please comment here as there are a still a lot of holes in the press: