Convicted in the U.S., 'consultant' carries on here
Published: Saturday, April 26, 2008
Mohammed Bassale Wanli, a self-described immigration consultant, has been charged and convicted of numerous crimes and misdemeanors, but he keeps popping up like one of those whack-a-mole games at the PNE midway.
Wanli, 49, is a Syrian who emigrated to the United States in the 1980s and promptly embarked on a life of crime. By 1993, he had racked up six criminal convictions in Minnesota and was jailed multiple times for credit card fraud, false representation, auto theft and “theft by swindle.”
At one point, he had five outstanding warrants for his arrest. U.S. authorities ordered him to put up a $10,000 bond pending a deportation hearing, which he did, but instead of appearing at the hearing, he skipped off to Canada.
Upon entering Canada in 1999, he claimed refugee status and, despite his extensive criminal record, was granted it. He set himself up as an immigration counselor under the rubric of ATO Immigration with an office in downtown Vancouver. A man of many pretenses, he also set up ATO Property Management Services, ATO Tracing Services, ATO Divorce Services, ATO Collection Services, ATO Process Services, and ATO Investigative Services.
Within a few months, B.C. Law Society officials learned he was falsely holding himself out to be a lawyer. In November 2000, they obtained an injunction against him, but he continued his duplicitous ways. In December 2007, a B.C. Supreme Court judge found him in contempt and fined him $7,500.
Meanwhile, he was busy defrauding people in his property management business. In February 2003, he was charged and convicted of four counts of fraud, handed 12 months probation and ordered to pay $12,100 restitution.
Clients and creditors also bombarded him with civil suits, and filed multiple complaints with the Better Business Bureau, which he failed to respond to. In many cases, Wanli bullied and intimidated his pursuers by launching frivolous lawsuits against them. On one occasion, in November 2001, he was charged with issuing a threat.
Numerous complaints were filed with the Vancouver Police Department. In 2005, the VPD Financial Crimes unit began an investigation, culminating last week with nine counts of fraud against Wanli. Insp. Kevin McQuiggan, head of the financial crimes unit, said the investigation is continuing and “there could be more charges.”
On Wednesday, Wanli was arrested and jailed. On Friday morning, he appeared in Vancouver Provincial Court for a bail hearing. Crown counsel Mark Canofari asked Judge William Kitchen to refuse bail on grounds that he was a flight risk and a danger to the public. The judge disagreed, setting bail at $50,000.
Wanli — despite being in the prisoner's box and wearing jail-house red — acted like it was all a walk in the park. He even tried, unsuccessfully, to bargain the judge down to $10,000. It is, of course, a total outrage that this man was allowed into our country in the first place.