LOCAL investigators are helping Canada to track down returned migrants who have dodged taxes or who fraudulently claim benefits from the Ottawa Government. It is estimated that Canada paid out at least C$3 billion (HK$16.84 billion) more than it had expected in welfare, insurance and other claims last year. And Ottawa believes the unexpected rise could be due to the increasing number of Asian immigrants, many from Hong Kong, who are playing the system either legitimately or fraudulently. 'Through our commercial activities, we are voluntarily helping the Canadians to look into this matter,' said Paul Taylor, managing director of Guardforce Investigation Services in Hong Kong. The Canadians wanted to learn more about cultural differences, believing Asians were good exploiting money-making opportunities, he added. His company would also help provide information about people living and working in Hong Kong whose families had settled in Canada - the most popular destination for emigrants from Hong Kong. The Canadians are already ensuring that family members who stay in Hong Kong but maintain a home in Canada know they are liable for Canadian taxes. They say family breadwinners often try to evade tax obligations by staying away from Canada. But Canada is concerned that the increase in state benefit claims - a problem which it has tagged 'economic fraud' - is threatening to become a major drain on resources. Canada accepts about half of all annual immigrants from Hong Kong. During the past six months there was a 15 per cent increase in immigration applications from Hong Kong people. The country issued a record 31,288 immigration visas in 1993. Recent figures show 28,400 visas had been issued for the first nine months of last year. There are about 800,000 Chinese living in Canada, most with links to Hong Kong. Barry MacDonald, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said there were about 60,000 people in Hong Kong who were holding Canadian passports. 'In many cases families emigrate and the husbands come back to work in Hong Kong because the economic prospects are better,' he said. 'In some cases that can put a strain on the family. However, Asian families generally tend to have strong family ties. 'I would suspect that the Hong Kong Chinese would be less likely to need to claim welfare than other sectors of the population.' The Canadian Consulate said it was unable to comment.