Hundreds to have fraudulent citizenship revoked

Hundreds of people who obtained Canadian citizenship through a Halifax-based company will have their citizenship revoked, CBC News has learned.

As part of the crackdown on immigration fraud, Ottawa announced earlier this week it was in the process of revoking the citizenship of about 3,100 people.

Remi Lariviere, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said they have now identified 430 cases connected to a Bedford company where they believe citizenship was gained through fraud and those clients will now have their Canadian citizenship revoked.

In March 2011, the RCMP laid 53 charges against Hassan Al-Awaid, 57, of Bedford. Al-Awaid was the president of Canadian Commercial Group, a company that offered help to immigrants. Now hundreds of his clients will lose their Canadian passports.

Police allege Al-Awaid helped clients get Canadian citizenship and passports by creating false addresses, phone and bank statements, even false medical records to make it look like they had been living in Canada for years while they actually lived overseas.

Canadian passports are coveted because it makes it easier for people to travel internationally and to leave their homeland quickly if needed.

The RCMP says its investigation of Canadian Commercial is still ongoing, so those numbers could grow even larger.

To date, Al-Awaid faces 22 counts of counselling/misrepresentation, 22 counts of misrepresentation, and nine counts of false representation under the Citizenship Act.

The RCMP investigation into 1,100 files of fraudulent residency and Canadian citizenship began five years ago after the group that regulates immigration consultants stripped Al-Awaid of his licence.

In January, the RCMP laid charges against two more men in a citizenship and immigration fraud case in Bedford.

Hani Dalqamouni, 39, and Nael Al-Mehdawi, 37, were charged under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The RCMP alleged that Dalqamouni and Al-Mehdawi acted as points of contact and assisted Hassan Al-Awaid, who was counselling and assisting foreign nationals through fraudulent means to maintain permanent residence status and obtain Canadian citizenship.

Both men were also clients of Al-Awaid.

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