Surveillance suggested the former branch manager had bought a train ticket and was planning to flee across Canada For a man alleged to have been involved in a billion-yuan heist, Gao Shan lived a quiet and modest life in Canada. It was not a life, however, lived completely under the radar. At an immigration detention hearing in Vancouver on Wednesday, to determine whether Gao posed a flight risk or security risk to the public, documents presented showed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had had the fugitive banker under surveillance for at least a year. Surveillance reports entered as evidence noted that Gao, the former head of a Bank of China sub-branch in the Heilongjiang provincial capital of Harbin , had recently switched from carrying his usual backpack to a duffel bag - an indication, said police, that he might flee. But Gao's immigration counsel, Alex Ning, scoffed at that suggestion, saying changing bags did not mean his client was a flight risk. Gao was also observed by the Mounties to have recently purchased a train ticket from Vancouver to Ottawa. Mr Ning said his client had considered taking a trip across Canada. 'Mr Gao gave me quite a reasonable answer. Due to the allegations against him in China, he's feeling particularly depressed and not mentally up,' Mr Ning said. 'His wife suggested he take a trip across Canada ... by train.' But after buying the ticket, Gao decided not to go. At the time he was about to leave, Canadian media widely reported that the west coast was in danger of a major earthquake. Mr Ning said his client feared a quake would hit while he was in the east and he would be separated from his family. It emerged that Gao, who has no job in Canada, arrived as a permanent resident in 2005 to join his wife, Li Xue, and their teenage daughter. Ms Li testified at the hearing that the family was living on the C$33,000 (HK$220,850) annual salary she earned as a childcare worker. After taxes and deductions, she took home about C$2,300 a month. She was also arrested on February 18, but was released. At the hearing, adjudicator Marc Tessler, who will decide whether Gao is a flight risk, asked Ms Li how the family could afford two homes on her income. The family owns a C$545,000 home in North Vancouver, which has a mortgage of C$320,000, and also purchased an apartment worth approximately C$330,000, also in North Vancouver. That apartment, which Ms Li said was a rental property, has about C$110,000 in equity. 'Your income and your savings are not sufficient as far as I can tell to cover your mortgage payments,' said Mr Tessler. 'I don't know how you're covering costs every month.' A family friend told the adjudicator the rental property was purchased last month. Ms Li said she had arrived in Canada with C$65,000 to attend school. She said she had mainly supported herself, although her husband had sent some money while he was still on the mainland. She said she bought the apartment to rent out or sell for a profit. 'I felt that [with] the real estate I could make money, because my husband didn't work,' she told the hearing. Her husband was often irritable and seemed troubled, Ms Li said, but he would not tell her why. Gao, clean-shaven with neatly trimmed hair, sat quietly as he listened to his wife's testimony.