Kihew Energy Services Ltd. has been found guilty of human smuggling offences after authorities busted a million-dollar human trafficking operation in northern Alberta.
Kihew, headed by a Ukrainian Orthodox Church pastor, entered a guilty plea in Edmonton provincial court on Tuesday and received a $215,000 fine as a sentence, after 60 foreign workers were brought in to Canada by the Alberta company under the guise of being students at Lakeland College in a scheme that may have earned the firm more than a million dollars, Mounties said.
The foreign nationals were not in Canada to study but were in fact cheap labour to be hired out for the benefit of Kihew, investigators explained.
“Kihew placed ads in a Polish newspaper and a website to recruit European welders and machinists to come to work in Canada,” said the RCMP.
“The first group of foreign workers arrived in December, 2005.
“The investigation found that an arrangement was made between Kihew and an individual who was employed at Lakeland College… who has since been terminated by the college, who sent letters to Canada Immigration and Citizenship confirming the foreign nationals as students for training in welding and English as a Second Language.”
Only some of the students, who started arriving in December 2005, attended the college and only for a small number of English as Second Language classes, investigators in Edmonton said.
“None of the foreign workers attended the college for technical welding classes as was indicated on the student visas,” Mounties said, adding the college was unaware the institution was being used as part of a human smuggling scheme.
“The foreign workers were contracted out by Kihew to several northern Alberta businesses, Kihew charged these businesses a high hourly rate of pay for the services of each foreign worker. However, Kihew paid the foreign workers a substantially lower rate of pay.
“It is alleged that Kihew profited approximately 1,000,000.00 dollars through 2006 by sub-contracting the foreign workers.”
Charges against John Lipinski, 43, of St. Paul, Alberta (Director of Kihew); Angela Lipinski, 42, of St. Paul, Alberta (Spouse of John Lipinski), and; Calvin Steinhauer, 38, of Goodfish Lake, Alberta, (Director of Kihew), were withdrawn.