Hundreds of yellow dandelion heads fill the large, grassy front lawn of a nondescript house on Fairfield Island. Beyond the long gravel driveway, through a metal gate, are barns made of plywood and tin.
An otherwise ordinary Chilliwack agriculture property, yet it is the man who runs the mushroom farm on the 2.5 acres and who possibly lives at the house that is of particular interest to authorities.
Not Chilliwack or British Columbia authorities or even the Canadian government.
It’s anti-corruption officials in China who allege that 45-year-old Wang Qingwei is an international fugitive who has misappropriated “extremely huge” sums of money.
Wang is one of 22 individuals listed on a Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China web page that lists the men’s names, photos, former jobs in China, as well as the crimes they are alleged to have committed and their known locations in Canada and the U.S.
Of the 22 men and women, five men are said to be living in Canada, all in British Columbia. In addition to Wang in Chilliwack, two are in Richmond, one in Vancouver and one in Nanaimo.
Wang is said to be a former “financial staff member” of Qingqi Group Hong Kong Co., Ltd., and is suspected of letter of credit fraud.
“Wang Qingwei, together with others, used falsified foreign trade contracts to get letters of credit from banks and take credit funds into his own possession, the amounts and losses of which are extremely huge,” according to the website.
China says he fled to Canada on April 21, 2005, and the website even lists the number of his travel document.
The 22 names are among a list of 100 as part of China’s so-called Operation Sky Net. In a statement that accompanied the list, China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) criticized countries who issued residency or passports and called for papers to be revoked. The CCDI also directs people to a whistleblower website for the purpose of providing information. The site’s content is in both Chinese and English and comes with the title: “Anti-Corruption Fugitive Repatriation and Asset Recovery.”
The Progress visited the property on Hope River Road on May 2 in an attempt to get a comment on the most-wanted list. The property is home to a 1920s-era, one-storey house in rustic shape, set back from the road. Near the barns sits a run-down trampoline and an old wooden swing set. On the day of the visit, a young boy was playing in the grass near the barns.
A man who looked like the photo of Wang posted by the Chinese government came to the gate and, when asked if he was Mr. Wang, asked what the purpose of the visit was. When told The Progress is curious about his inclusion on a most-wanted list issued by the government of China, he responded in articulate English: “We have no comment, sorry for that.”
When pressed if he was concerned about his inclusion on the list, the man repeated “No comment, sorry.”
Reuters news agency reported on the most-wanted list over a year ago, and on the number of individuals located in both the U.S. and Canada. A Reuters reporter also visited the Chilliwack property. A man who said he was Wang’s brother confirmed Wang was the man on the Sky Net list and said he was unaware if he had been contacted by authorities.
When asked about the allegations against Wang, the brother gestured towards the unkempt house and property, saying only: “He’s a farmer.”
Indeed, the evidence does point to a modest mushroom farm and little more. The man approached by The Progress was dressed in work clothes and wore a hat with the logo for All Seasons Mushrooms, a large mushroom production and marketing company based in Langley. According to online documents, the property is home to Everharvest Mushrooms Inc., and a number of agricultural purchases have been delivered to the address over the years.
The address also came up when the City of Chilliwack received a development variance permit in 2014 to reduce the required interior side lot line setback for an extension to an existing barn.
Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told The Progress it could not comment on individual cases without their consent. A spokesperson did say that IRCC takes fraud seriously and conducts regular “integrity reviews” of applications received.
Evidence of fraud can lead to revocation of immigration status, citizenship and/or refusal or revocation of Canadian passports.
A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) similarly would not comment directly on Wang’s case, adding that the decision to remove someone from Canada is not taken lightly.
“Evidence from foreign authorities is only one element of an investigation and it is subjected to the rules of law,” the CBSA spokesperson said via email, adding that police reports and court records are the best evidence when someone is considered a fugitive.
“The removal of inadmissible persons from Canada is a process guided by Canadian laws and is normal part of the bilateral relationship with any country,” she said. “Everyone ordered removed from Canada is entitled to due process before the law and all removal orders are subject to various levels of appeal.”
Other alleged fugitives living in B.C. on China’s list include: Xiao Bin, 55, suspected of embezzlement and living in Richmond; Li Wenge, 48, suspected of contract frauds and fund-raising frauds also in Richmond; He Jian suspected of embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds living in Nanaimo; and then there is Cheng Muyang, suspected of embezzlement and concealment of illegal gains said to be living in Vancouver.
Muyang, 47, is a wealthy Vancouver real estate developer going by Michael Ching Mo Yeung, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. Ching denies the charges against him and is currently seeking refugee status in Canada.
The South China Morning Post was unable to contact any of the 22 on the list, but Ching’s lawyer requested the paper no longer attempt to contact him or his family. The Asian media outlet reported that according to publicly available documents his daughter is living in a $4.6-million home on West 51st Avenue in Oakridge.