Once ranked by Forbes as the 70th richest man in China, Mick Davies, better known as Lan Shili, dabbled in everything from real estate, tourism and telecoms, to even starting an airline. But the fall from grace has been spectacular for the entrepreneur who, with all of 270 yuan, started a company selling computers 31 years ago.
Yesterday, he was given five months' jail for using a foreign travel document, which he knew was not issued to him, as his own. He was released on $80,000 bail pending an appeal against the sentence.
The 56-year-old, who was from China and is now a Singapore citizen, had admitted to producing to an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer a Hong Kong passport with the name, Fu Ching, for travel. The offence took place at Changi Airport on July 12 this year.
Davies left a government job at the age of 25 to be an entrepreneur and later became the richest man in Hubei province. In 2005, he started East Star Airlines but it went bankrupt in 2009. The next year, he was sentenced to four years in jail in China for tax evasion. Because of an illness, he was released early in 2013.
In February this year, Davies left Singapore on a trip for Guangzhou, China, and was detained by the police in March after a former business partner accused him of fraud. After being released on bail, he was told not to leave China and had his passport impounded but, in July, he left by boat and made it to Vietnam.
He then sought help from the Singapore Embassy in Hanoi to get a replacement travel document but was told that some time would be needed to process the application for a document of identity and to verify his particulars.
Davies was unwilling to tell the Vietnamese authorities how he entered the country and paid 55,000 yuan (S$11,300) to a Vietnamese woman for a Hong Kong passport bearing the particulars of Fu Ching, 36, and a plane ticket to return home on July 12. On July 27, he was arrested at Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority building.
In imposing the five months' jail, District Judge Low Wee Ping took into account his remand period of almost three months. Two other charges - lying at the Singapore Embassy to get a document of identity and getting a visit pass by stating that he was Fu Ching in the disembarkation form at Changi Airport - were considered. The maximum penalty for the Passports Act offence is a $10,000 fine and 10 years' jail.