Chinese national acquitted of using fake work pass

She thought it was genuine and there's no evidence she could tell it wasn't, judge finds

A Chinese national who used a forged work pass and overstayed was cleared after a district court found that she did not know it was a fake.

Ms Liu Dandan, 28, had faced two charges of possessing the fake pass and overstaying in Singapore after her 14-day social visit pass expired.

In judgment grounds released on Tuesday, District Judge Adam Nakhoda said if Ms Liu did not know her work pass was forged, then although she knew her social visit pass had expired, "she would nonetheless believe that her stay in Singapore was authorised as she was in possession of a valid pass".

Ms Liu had entered Singapore in July 2014 bearing a valid In-Principle Approval for Work pass (IPA) obtained through her agent in China.

After arrival , she underwent medical tests, fingerprinting and photograph procedures arranged by her agent. The agent later gave her a work pass to replace the IPA for her to work at Thong Lee Crane, which provides crane services.

HARD TO SPOT DIFFERENCE

I found that the (fake) was not so different from a genuine work pass that a person who was not experienced in telling the difference between a genuine and a fake pass would be able to.

DISTRICT JUDGE ADAM NAKHODA, explaining his judgment.

But in September 2014, her work pass was found to be a fake when she tried to enter Marina Bay Sands (MBS) using the pass.

Security guards there found that the card control number was not one issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Ms Liu was arrested, but said she did not know or suspect that the pass was a fake as she had gone through the required procedures.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sia Jiazheng argued that Ms Liu had been issued with genuine work passes on four other occasions and should know the difference between a real and a fake pass.

But her lawyer Peter Ong countered that as a member of the public, she would not know the difference, nor would she know to go to the MOM website to read about the security features of the pass.

In contrast, the MBS staff were trained or experienced enough to spot fakes, he added.

District Judge Nakhoda said he found no evidence to show that Ms Liu would have been able to spot the difference immediately and know her pass was a fake.

"I found that the (fake) was not so different from a genuine work pass that a person who was not experienced in telling the difference between a genuine and a fake pass would be able to," he said, ruling that the charges had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors are appealing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese national acquitted of using fake work pass'. Print Edition | Subscribe