A few rich foreigners seeking Canadian residency under a special Quebec program for wealthy investors couldn’t point to the province on a map, while others submitted fake documents or disguised their assets, yet many of them were still accepted for immigration, former civil servants say.
The officials, charged with administering the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), say they were sometimes pressured into ignoring signs that applicants’ fortunes were founded on corruption or other ill-gotten gains.
“It’s a program that has lots of gaps, that permits people with dubious or even illicit business to launder money through the program and to buy themselves citizenship inexpensively,” said one former immigration officer.
Plenty of current and former civil servants in Quebec spoke to Radio-Canada’s investigative program Enquête on condition of anonymity, revealing what they see as major flaws in an immigration program that has granted permanent residency to tens of thousands of people since it began in 1986.
QIIP applicants must have at least $2 million in assets and agree to loan $1.2 million of that to the Quebec government interest-free for five years. The government invests the money and uses the interest to provide grants to small- and medium-sized businesses.
“We were under a lot of pressure to approve applicants in order to meet annual financial targets,” said one ex-bureaucrat.