Former Lester B. Pearson School board employees, former associate, plead not guilty in alleged scheme
CLARIFICATION/CORRECTION – CTV wishes to clarify that the company Rising Phoenix International Inc., (Rising Phoenix) has no involvement in the charges laid against Caroline Mastantuono, her daughter Christina and former business associate Naveen Kolan as described below. The charges relate to alleged acts that occurred between 2014-2016 and allegedly involve Kolan’s own recruiting company. Kolan did not work for Rising Phoenix as originally stated in this report. Rising Phoenix was not incorporated until 2017. While the accused, Caroline and Christina Mastantuono, were founding shareholders and officers of Rising Phoenix, Caroline and Christina are no longer shown on the corporate registry as shareholders or officers of the company since shortly after the chargers were laid and Giuseppe Mastantuono, Caroline’s husband is now responsible for the company.
Two former Lester B. Pearson School Board employees pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges stemming from allegations of falsifying documents to attract foreign students.
The two former staff members and a former business partner who is also charged did not appear in court but sent their pleas in via their lawyers.
Prosecutors allege that Caroline Mastantuono, her daughter Christina and former business associate Naveen Kolan tried to recruit foreign students and used fraudulent documents to accelerate the treatment of demands.
According to Quebec's anti-corruption police unit, Kolan’s recruitment company controlled by him, along with Caroline Mastantuono, devised a scheme of fraud, production and use of false documents, and Christina participated in the scheme.
The investigation suggests they produced false documents to fast track the dossiers of foreign students, at the expense of the school board.
Foreign students pay up to $20,000 a year to obtain their degree and get a chance to settle in Canada.
The LBPSB itself was not implicated in the charges.
On top of the criminal charges, the Mastantuonos and Rising Phoenix International Inc., the recruiting company they founded in 2017, and are no longer involved with, according to the corporate registry, are facing a potential class-action lawsuit from Indian students who claim their education at various Quebec private schools was misrepresented and that they failed to reimburse tuition fees.