B.C. immigration lawyer sentenced to 22 months in jail for forging paperwork

B.C. immigration lawyer sentenced to 22 months in jail for forging paperwork

A B.C. immigration lawyer with deep ties to the province’s South Asian and political communities has been sentenced to 22 months in jail after pleading responsible to 17 prices together with forgery and the misrepresentation of info.

Balraj Singh “Roger” Bhatti, 63, was charged in 2020 and accused of colluding with international nationals to make fraudulent claims for refugee safety in Canada. He was suspended by the Legislation Society of British Columbia at the moment.

In saying the fees, the Canada Border Providers Company (CBSA) mentioned Bhatti, based mostly in Delta, B.C., labored with an interpreter, Sofiane Dahak, in offences that concerned folks coming from Central Europe and came about between 2002 and 2014.

The CBSA started investigating Bhatti in 2012. Bhatti began practising legislation in 1983 and branched out to immigration legislation in 1990.

A close-up picture of a CBSA shoulder patch.
The Canada Border Providers Company started investigating the immigration legislation observe of Roger Bhatti in 2012. (CBC)

In his causes for sentencing, not too long ago posted on-line, B.C. Provincial Court docket Decide Mark Jetté wrote that on the time of the offences Bhatti was one of many busiest legal professionals within the Decrease Mainland representing purchasers in search of conference refugee standing.

The courtroom discovered that Bhatti cast notes within the title of his household doctor and others saying purchasers have been unwell in a bid to adjourn or postpone hearings with the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).

The notes usually mentioned {that a} consumer suffered a coronary heart assault, lack of listening to or had kidney stones. The physicians whose letterhead was used for the paperwork testified in courtroom that they’d not ready them.

The courtroom mentioned that Bhatti “submitted Hungarian police studies and/or medical information which he knew to be false, with the intention of inducing the IRB to make a discovering in favour of his purchasers.”

Bhatti’s legal professionals, together with former B.C. legal professional normal Wally Oppal, requested for a conditional sentence for his or her consumer, who had no prior legal convictions.

A conditional sentence was denied by Jetté as a result of “seriousness of those offences,” he wrote.

“The truth that Mr. Bhatti was performing in his capability as a lawyer all through, the affect Mr. Bhatti’s conduct has had on the integrity of the conference refugee system on this nation, and Mr. Bhatti’s excessive diploma of ethical blameworthiness name for a sentence of institutional jail.”

Neighborhood ties

The explanations for sentencing embrace sections that describe the work strain Bhatti was beneath in representing so many consumers.

His legal professionals provided a number of letters to the courtroom, together with one from former MLA Moe Sihota, who’s married to Bhatti’s spouse’s sister, describing the toll Bhatti’s workload and dedication to his purchasers was taking over his well being.

A scientific and forensic psychologist additionally supplied proof that Bhatti had extreme melancholy on the time of the offences, which was exacerbated by his work habits.

“It was obvious that Mr. Bhatti’s busy observe and work habits have been taking each a bodily and emotional toll,” wrote Jetté.

The explanations additionally weigh how a sentence to be served in jail may additional undermine Bhatti’s well being and his obligations to his household and neighborhood.

Repute ‘broken past restore’

Bhatti’s father, Kesar, was president of the Khalsa Diwan Society and instrumental within the constructing of the Sikh Temple on Ross Road in Vancouver. His spouse, Debbie Parhar, was a particular assistant in Mike Harcourt’s workplace when he was B.C. premier. She later grew to become Bhatti’s workplace bookkeeper.

“He’s a part of a close-knit Indo-Canadian neighborhood; his fame inside that neighborhood specifically has been broken, doubtless past restore,” wrote Jetté. “His spouse has suffered and can proceed to endure because of his actions.”

Jetté additionally thought of aggravating components within the sentencing, writing that creating false medical and police studies, “was a classy and premeditated course of conduct which continued over a interval of years, and impacted a number of claims.”

Interpreter sentence

In mid-June 2021, Dahak entered responsible pleas and acquired a conditional sentence of two years much less a day with situations that included home arrest for the primary eight months, a curfew for the following eight months and 100 neighborhood work hours. He was additionally fined $14,000.

The CBSA mentioned in 2020 that a lot of the claimants from Bhatti and Dahak’s offences have been discovered to not be refugees and have been faraway from Canada.