World News

Vancouver Man Who Promised Riches to Investors Committed Fraud, Panel Says

Posted December 13, 2017 6:39 p.m. EST

In a case that highlights Canada’s struggle to quash financial crime, a prominent immigration consultant and political donor in Vancouver’s wealthy Chinese community has been found to have committed fraud, the British Columbia Securities Commission announced Wednesday.

A commission panel ruled that the consultant, Paul Se Hui Oei, a flamboyant businessman with a fondness for luxury cars, had swindled nearly $4 million from investors, including Chinese immigrants and citizens of China who were led to believe that their investment would allow them to secure permanent residency status in Canada.

Bragging of his ties to prominent Canadian politicians and his financial success, Oei leveraged his connections in the Chinese community to raise money for a recycling startup. But Oei secretly transferred part of the money, more than 5 million Canadian dollars, that investors had intended to fund the project into companies under his control, and he issued shares with no assets to the investors, the panel found.

Oei and his companies “misappropriated these funds and used them for their own purposes and not as the investors were told they would be used,” the panel stated. Oei declined to comment.

British Columbia is trying to shed its reputation as a hotbed of financial crime and to curb international money laundering at its casinos, a practice the provincial attorney general said was known as the “Vancouver model.”

But it is unclear whether Oei will have to pay for his malfeasance. Although the commission is expected to impose penalties on Oei to recoup the fraudulently obtained funds, the provincial regulatory agency has faced criticism recently from the British Columbia government for its dismal enforcement record.

In response to an investigation last month by The Vancouver Sun that showed the commission had collected less than 2 percent of $398 million in financial penalties over the past decade, the British Columbia finance minister, Carole James, called on the commission to improve its enforcement methods.

“It is disturbing to see the apparent lack of accountability for white collar criminals who have ruined people’s lives through financial fraud,” James said in an emailed statement.