Former business associates must wait before seeing any money from an ex-immigration consultant in Yellowknife who now appears to owe roughly $625,000 to his creditors.
Liang Chen now works as a substitute teacher for Yellowknife Catholic Schools, a job that pays about $2,000 monthly. He says he loses $3,000 more than he makes each month.
An NWT Territorial Court judge has decided Chen is unable to repay two businesses he hired to create a high-end gift store for one of his immigration clients.
According to court documents, Capital City Construction was awarded a default judgement of $31,149.63. Charlotte Henry Design was awarded a default judgement of $34,137.09.
At a recent payment hearing – which Chen tried to have held in private – Judge Garth Malakoe also denied a request from the businesses’ lawyer, Chris Buchanan, to have Chen be required to pay back $50 a month.
Malakoe said Chen’s financial situation precluded that possibility.
“That doesn’t mean these judgements go away,” Malakoe told Chen, as reported by the CBC.
Buchanan told the CBC the prosecution has up to 10 years to provide relevant information and hold another payment hearing.
Chen’s foreign client had hoped to open a luxury fur store named North + Wild in Centre Square Mall.
The woman emigrated to Yellowknife from China in 2019 after applying to the business stream of the Northwest Territories’ nominee program.
Chen had taken over both the lease and ownership of the business from the former client. In November 2020, Chen told Cabin Radio the Covid-19 pandemic and NWT border closure had made the business no longer viable and caused him financial difficulties.
That former client was separately awarded $185,523 in a 2020 NWT Supreme Court judgement after suing Chen for breach of contract and damages.
Chen, a former partner at the city’s Copperhouse restaurant, won Yellowknife’s 2019 Win Your Space business incubation contest alongside other ventures.
In 2021, another former client of Chen’s immigration consultant company won a lawsuit in Supreme Court for $125,000 in damages plus a further $250,000 in punitive and aggravated damages. In 2017, that client, also from China, had hired Chen to help him achieve permanent residency in Canada.
The only payment found in several court files involving Chen’s matters was made in April 2021, when the woman behind the luxury gift store was paid $183.21.