Chinese fraud suspect loses bid to make evidence public to help refugee claim

A Richmond B.C., businessman wanted by Chinese authorities for fraud has lost a bid in Federal Court to pry open blacked-out information he argued would help his refugee claim.

Shiyuan Shen came to Canada in 2007, claiming authorities were hunting him for political reasons by bringing trumped-up charges and using torture to manufacture evidence against him.

Shen, who runs a kitchen cabinet company, was named in an Interpol warrant in relation to a $20-million fraud scheme involving a Shanghai steel company.

He lost a bid for asylum in 2013, but a new refugee hearing was ordered, based on potential evidence that was withheld by the federal government.

On Thursday, a Federal Court judge refused to make public redacted sections of two reports that explored whether a police officer employed by China's Public Security Bureau (PSB) could gain entry into Canada.

Shen's legal team argued that the protected portions helped prove that evidence to oppose his refugee claim was "derived from torture," say federal court documents.

The police officer was coming to Canada to testify at Shen's refugee hearing.

Shen's legal team argued for access to all the information in two Canada Border Service Agency documents, believing the blacked-out sections were important to Shen's refugee claim.

But Judge Simon Fothergill disagreed, citing expert testimony which is partially blacked out in an 11-page March 23 decision.

David Hartman of Global Affairs Canada's Greater China division testified that given the media attention on the case some parts of those reports should remain protected as they may damage the "dynamic" relationship between China and Canada.

"He provided particulars of current diplomatic priorities and risks," Fothergill wrote.

He ruled that Shen's lawyers already have access to most of the contents of the CBSA documents and redacted portions contained "little, if any additional evidence."

Shen's lawyer, Lorne Waldman, is reviewing the decision, to determine what this means for his client who has evaded Chinese authorities for 15 years.