A judge has convicted former immigration manager Diane Serré of fraud and breach of trust after Serré accepted gifts and money in exchange for granting preferential treatment to some immigrants. Thanks to the evidence in the case, Ontario Superior Court Justice Catherine Aitken found Serré guilty of 15 counts of fraud and 12 counts of breach of trust. Serré was acquitted of one count of bribery.
Serré accepted money from Issam Dakik, a friend of hers. In exchange, she offered Dakik help in processing ten files related to immigration cases. Serré made money on the deal while Dakik got preferential treatment, information, advice, and documentation related to his immigration clients. The incidents occurred between 2003 and 2004, when Serré worked with Dakik and his esthetician wife. During that time, Dakik let people in the Lebanese community know that he could get immigration situations handled effectively because he knew someone in immigration.
Serré was an acting operations supervisor at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and used her influence to speed up or take care of immigration cases for Dakik. She and Dakik met to allegedly discuss the cases. In some of these cases, the people Dakik and Serré assisted received work permits they were not qualified to get while others were in the country illegally but were allowed to remain. In one case, Serré and Dakik helped a man who had outstanding criminal charges. In other cases, Serré completed applications that usually take years in just week, fast-tracking applications for Dakik’s clients while legitimate cases waited. Serré received at least $25, 900 from Dakik for her influence, although the exact amount is not clear.
Serré and Dakik tried to keep their activities hidden, but authorities use wiretapping, surveillance, and marked bills to capture information about interactions between Serré and Dakik. Eventually, the homes of both Serré and Dakik were raided to gather even further evidence. The huge amount of evidence gathered in the case reportedly made the decision of conviction easier for the judge, as it left little doubt about Serré’s activities. Serré’s defense attorney was not able to challenge the evidence and instead pleaded that Serré was helping immigrants and was not receiving as much money for her activities as reported. The judge in the case rejected these arguments.
Dakik already pled guilty to his role in the case in 2006 and has been sentenced to two years and nine months in prison. Serré is currently out on bail and will likely need to return to court sometime later this year for a sentencing hearing.