Court dismisses appeal of fugitive who fled to US

Facing jail time for forgery, he fled Singapore in 2003 using a passport bearing another man's name.

For the next 12 years, Ng Chong Lin settled in the United States, where he practised immigration law under a bogus identity, before he was caught and deported.

Charged with offences relating to his departure, Ng, now 45, insisted he had applied for a passport using his own identity card but did not realise that he was issued one that bore his photograph alongside the particulars of one Wee Pui Kui.

He claimed he did not spot the error throughout the stages of his departure - when he collected his passport, when he booked his air ticket, and when he checked in and cleared immigration at Changi Airport.

He said he noticed the error only after arriving in New York, but it did not occur to him to seek help from the Singapore Embassy there.

His story failed to convince the High Court yesterday, which dismissed Ng's appeal against his conviction for cheating by personation and producing a misleading document to an immigration officer.

The saga began in 2003, when Ng was sentenced to three years and three months' jail for forgery and other charges related to a company in which he was a director.

He filed an appeal, was granted bail and handed his passport to the police.

Ng then applied for a new passport and was issued one that bore his photograph but the particulars of Wee Pui Kui.

Two days before his appeal was to be heard, he used this passport to leave for New York.

He lived there for 12 years, using at least seven aliases, one of them "Daveng Wee".

The name appeared to be an amalgamation of Dave Ng, a name he was known by.

From 2006 to 2009, he used the name and registration number of a real attorney to file documents to the federal authorities for individuals in various immigration matters.

Besides posing as a lawyer, he claimed to have attended schools in New York when he applied for temporary residence in the US in May 2007.

In 2010, "Daveng Wee" was caught by the US authorities and jailed for four years for aggravated identity theft in impersonating an attorney, among other things.

His real identity was revealed after his fingerprints were sent to Singapore.

In June last year, a district judge called Ng an "inveterate liar" and sentenced him to 40 months' jail for the offences relating to his departure.

Ng's appeal against this decision, as well as the shelved appeal from 2003, was heard - and dismissed - by the High Court yesterday.

selinal@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Jan 28, 2017.
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