Woman entered Singapore under false identities

She had fled over fake degree, but returned using various passports

She fled the country after being charged in 2002 with using a fake degree to apply for permanent residency.

But that did not stop Lin Lifen, 39, from repeatedly coming back to Singapore over the next 12 years using different identities. She is now appealing against a 16-week jail sentence for her offences.

The wealthy businesswoman, who married a permanent resident from Canada, first returned to Singapore as Shuting Lin Grayston using a Canadian passport. Later, she used a Central African Republic diplomatic passport issued under the name Charlize Lin.

Each time, the Chinese national lied in arrival forms that she had never used a passport under a different name to enter Singapore.

In March last year, she was detained at Changi Airport after immigration officers noticed irregularities in her Central African Republic diplomatic passport.

Earlier this year, she pleaded guilty to one count of using a forged degree and three counts of making a false declaration.

Four other false declaration charges were taken into consideration. Her jail term has been stayed pending the outcome of her appeal.

In a written judgment published yesterday, District Judge Shawn Ho said Lin was a "wily wheeler-dealer who deliberately deceived the Singapore authorities with her duplicitous conduct".

Lin, who has a string of business interests including diamond mining, oil exploration and spas, said her main reason for coming back to Singapore was to spend time with her son. But the district judge said the evidence showed that it was the "powerful pull of profit, rather than familial bonds" that drew her back.

He said that in letters to the authorities in 2013, her lawyers said she wanted to move all her business interests here, make Singapore the head office for her oil business and invest $2 million in an apartment.

The district judge also rejected the defence's argument that the different names on the passports were not fakes adopted by Lin to mislead the authorities.

"Why was there a need to be chameleonic about her identity on official travel documents?" he said.

By re-offending after absconding while on bail, Lin had showed "total disregard of authority and blatant disrespect for the law", he added.

Between 1996 and 2000, Lin came to Singapore many times on a tourist pass.

In 2000, she was issued a dependent's pass under the sponsorship of her husband.

Lin, who has a primary school education, later got a fake bachelor's degree in economics from the Foreign Economics and Trade University in Beijing, as she wanted to get PR status here. But the university said the certificate was forged, following checks by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

selinal@sph.com.sg