A Halifax immigration consultant who helped clients lie on their Canadian immigration applications has been handed a conditional sentence of two years less a day and fined $75,000.
HALIFAX: Immigration consultant Ziad El Shurafa fined $75k for helping clients lie on their Canadian immigration applications
Published September 11, 2014 – 6:49pm
Last Updated September 11, 2014 – 6:49pm
Ziad El Shurafa, 41, of Bedford pleaded guilty in April to five charges of counselling misrepresentation under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
He was sentenced Thursday in Halifax provincial court.
Judge Michael Sherar said immigration consultants are trusted and regulated to guide people from other countries through Canada’s “daunting” immigration process.
“(An immigration consultant) has a privileged role to play in maintaining the integrity of Canada’s immigration system and the administration of justice,” Sherar said. “They must uphold the rule of law and act at all times honestly and in good faith toward immigration officials, without intent to deceive or undermine the integrity of the system, or assist others to do so.
“And that’s what we have here today.”
Sherar said the courts must deter people like El Shurafa “from trying to deceive the system, trying to circumvent the system, trying to get (their clients) ahead of others.”
“They have to know that if they get caught, they will be punished,” he said. “The way not to get caught is to not commit the crime.”
The judge placed El Shurafa on house arrest for the first year of his conditional sentence. That will be followed by one year with an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.
El Shurafa is still allowed to work while he’s serving the conditional sentence and can travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for business purposes as long as he gets the court’s permission first.
He’s also permitted outside his residence for between four and eight hours every week to attend to personal needs, if approved by his sentence supervisor.
The $75,000 fine must be paid within two years.
El Shurafa was the head of Canada 2000 Immigration and Business Services Inc., whose Halifax office was raided by the Canada Border Services Agency in May 2011. He and two other employees were charged with counselling misrepresentation. The charges related to potential immigrants from U.A.E., Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Saudi Arabia, dating back to January 2006.
“Over a five-year period, he assisted immigrants in falsifying their periods of residency in Canada,” Crown attorney Tim McLaughlin said of El Shurafa.
“We identified five separate individuals or families that he did that for. None of them lived in Canada during the periods of time they said they lived in Canada. They were required to live in Canada for certain time frames to get permanent resident status or citizenship.”
El Shurafa told the court he regrets breaking the law.
“What has happened was wrong,” he said. “It shouldn’t have happened. … It was a lesson well learned.”
The Crown asked for a two-year penitentiary sentence, while defence lawyer Jane Lenehan suggested probation with a fine and perhaps an order to make a charitable donation.
El Shurafa now works for an immigration services company called Elevay, which is based in Dubai and has offices in Halifax and other cities around the world.