The alleged boss of Macau's Wo On Lok triad has been ordered deported from Canada, it has been announced, although it remains unclear whether he is still in the country.
Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board ruled last week that Lai Tong-sang should never have been allowed into the country nearly 17 years ago and ordered his removal, citing his ties to organised crime. The order was only publicised on Wednesday.
Lai's lawyer Peter Chapman told local media, however, that the decision would be appealed. Lai's wife and three children were allowed to stay in Canada under the ruling.
Lai, who has been the target of contract killers and who has not been photographed for years, did not attend the immigration hearing in Vancouver.
He was allowed to attend via a telephone link from an undisclosed location. A telephone number with an "853" prefix that was erroneously read aloud by a court technician revealed that he was calling from Macau.
The board in its ruling said that Canadian officials had failed to properly check his background when admitting Lai into the country and found compelling evidence of his crime links and involvement in a deadly 1990s turf war between the Wo On Lok, also known as the Shui Fong, and the rival 14K triad.
A year after arriving in Vancouver in October 1996, Lai's home was peppered with bullets in a drive-by shooting, which Canadian police wiretaps showed was ordered by 14K leader "Broken Tooth" Wan Kuok-koi.
Police gave evidence at Lai's immigration hearing in February that a C$1 million (HK$7.4 million) contract had been put on his life.
All the while, the board heard, Lai refused to co-operate with Canadian police, fearing it would expose his criminal gang ties.