China tycoon who moved here convicted of passport offence

Mick Davies, also known as Lan Shili, was ranked by Forbes as the 70th richest man in China in 2007.
Mick Davies, also known as Lan Shili, was ranked by Forbes as the 70th richest man in China in 2007.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

He was once the richest man in Hubei province, and ranked by Forbes as the 70th richest man in China in 2007.

Mick Davies, a businessman from China who is now a Singapore citizen living here, found himself on the wrong side of the law when he was convicted yesterday of an offence under the Passports Act.

The 56-year-old pleaded guilty to using a Hong Kong passport under the name of Fu Ching for travel in July this year, when he knew the passport had not been issued to him.

Davies, also known as Lan Shili, is a well-known entrepreneur who left a government job at the age of 25 to set up a company, with a capital of just 270 yuan, selling computers, according to media reports. In 2005, he started East Star Airlines to add to his businesses in areas including real estate, tourism and telecoms.

But the airline went bankrupt in 2009, and the next year, he was sentenced to four years in jail in China for tax evasion. Illness saw him released early in 2013.

But trouble caught up with him again when Davies left Singapore for Guangzhou, China, on a business trip on Feb 11. He was detained by the police in China some time in March over a purported complaint of fraud lodged by a previous business partner. He was later released on bail, and told not to leave China. His passport was impounded.

But that did not stop him from hatching a plan to return to Singapore via Vietnam, which he entered illegally by boat on July 9.

He sought help from the Singapore Embassy in Hanoi to get a replacement travel document but was told that this would take time.

He decided to leave Vietnam illegally when told that he would have to report to the Vietnamese authorities to account for how he had entered the country without clearing an immigration checkpoint.

He then paid 55,000 yuan (S$11,336) to a woman he knew as "Ah Hua", who gave him a Hong Kong passport on July 12. The passport bore the name and photo of Fu Ching - a 36-year-old man who looked like him.

Davies was also given a plane ticket to fly back to Singapore, and entered the country with the passport the same day. But about two weeks later on July 27, he was arrested at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority building.

In mitigation, his lawyer Chung Ting Fai said returning to Singapore was important for his client as he had received threats to his life in China. He said that, given his client's severe heart condition, Davies was worried that he would suffer from sudden cardiac arrest.

Davies has had two previous episodes of seizure, said Mr Chung, and committed the offence solely to be with his wife and family.

The prosecution is seeking a sentence of at least eight months' jail and will make further submissions on Nov 3. The maximum penalty is a $10,000 fine and 10 years' jail.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2016, with the headline 'China tycoon who moved here convicted of passport offence'. Print Edition | Subscribe