21 July 2013

Vietnamese Lady Entered Sham Marriage to be with Married Singaporean Man


SINGAPORE: A Vietnamese woman and a Singaporean man have become the first couple to be prosecuted under a new law aimed at deterring marriages of convenience.

31-year-old Vietnamese, Tran Thi Kim Phuong, met a Singaporean man in 2009 while on holiday in Singapore and they were said to have fallen in love.

But the man was already married.

Between 2009 and 2011, Tran travelled to Singapore to be with him.

Desperate to stay in Singapore to be with the married Singaporean, Tran agreed to enter into a marriage of convenience with another man - 47-year-old Singaporean Theong Peng Nyuk.

Theong was promised a sum of S$5,000 and S$300 for every successful visit pass extension he helped to sponsor.

The couple subsequently "registered" their marriage on 31 January 2013.

After the solemnisation, they went their separate ways.

The couple would only meet up at the ICA Building when Tran needed to extend her Visit Pass.

Unknown to them, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers had been keeping a close watch on them.

About two months later, Tran and Theong were arrested by ICA officers.

Cases of marriage of convenience have so far been charged under Section 57(1)(k) of the Immigration Act (IA) where the individuals are charged with making false statements in obtaining immigration facilities.

The penalties for the offence are a fine not exceeding S$4,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both.

To send a strong deterrent message to individuals who are thinking of entering into a marriage of convenience for the purpose of obtaining an immigration facility, the IA was amended and a new Section 57C introduced.

This allows ICA to prosecute errant couples, middlemen or marriage agencies involved in marriages which are entered into for the purpose of illegally obtaining an immigration advantage, and applies to marriages registered on or after 19 December 2012.

This will include the grant of visas, visit passes, long-term passes and permanent residence.

The penalties for the offence are a fine of up to S$10,000 or jail for up to 10 years, or both.

Tran and Theong were the first couple to be prosecuted under the new Section 57C.

Both Tran and Theong were charged with two counts of making false statements to obtain a Visit Pass, an offence under Section 57(1)(k) of the IA, and one count of entering into a marriage of convenience, an offence under Section 57C(1) of the IA.

Tran was also charged with making false declaration in her Disembarkation and Embarkation card, an offence under Section 57(1)(k) of the IA.

Both Tran and Theong were convicted on 23 May and each sentenced to six months' jail.

- CNA/ir

Sigh, poor woman, but it's kind of scary how ICA officers can keep a close watch on them, how did they do it? Very curious, but Chinese have a saying,

A clean conscience fears not false accusations.

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