Man jailed for arranging sham marriages, harbouring Viet 'wives'

Tan Chuen Zin has been jailed for 1½ years and fined $13,000 for his offences.
Tan Chuen Zin has been jailed for 1½ years and fined $13,000 for his offences.

Within months of their first meetings, the Singaporean-Vietnamese couples solemnised their weddings at a restaurant, as organised by their "matchmaker" Tan Chuen Zin, 42.

But the men and women went their separate ways immediately after the wedding, with the Vietnamese "wives" renting Tan's apartment for $530 each every month.

The sham marriages were discovered by the authorities, and Tan was jailed for 1½ years and fined $13,000 last Friday for arranging two marriages of convenience and harbouring the Vietnamese women.

He was caught in March 2017 after the two "couples" he matchmade were arrested by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officials a month before, said the ICA in a statement yesterday.

The two Singaporean men had approached Tan in May 2016, as they were both in financial difficulties.

David Sim, 52, asked Tan for job recommendations, but he offered Sim a marriage of convenience scheme instead that could bag Sim $4,000, and $300 for every successful extension of his "wife's" visit pass.

Sim was matched to Vietnamese Tran Thuy Bich Tran, 24, in July that year, after she was advised by Tan to get married to extend her stay in Singapore.

The maximum penalty for arranging or entering into a marriage of convenience is a fine of up to $10,000 and a jail term of up to 10 years.

She paid Tan, a Singaporean, $9,000 for the marriage, and was to pay him the subsequent $300 for every successful extension of her pass.

Tan Jian You, 27, who also told Tan Chuen Zin of his financial difficulties, was offered $1,500 for a marriage of convenience.

His "wife" was Vietnamese woman Vo Thi Diem Kieu, 23, who also paid Tan Chuen Zin $9,000 for the marriage.

Both "wives" lived in Tan Chuen Zin's apartment after their solemnisation ceremonies in November that year, and each paid him $530 every month for rental.

But on Feb 20, 2017, the two couples were arrested by ICA officers. Tan Chuen Zin was arrested the next month.

Both couples were sentenced to six months' jail in 2017 for entering into sham marriages and making false statements in their visit pass applications.

Last year, the ICA busted at least two sham marriage syndicates, which involved a total of 31 people, among them 13 fake married couples.

The ICA said: "ICA takes a serious view of individuals trying to circumvent our system by engaging in, arranging or assisting to arrange marriages of convenience to obtain immigration facilities in Singapore."

The maximum penalty for arranging or entering into a marriage of convenience is a fine of up to $10,000 and a jail term of up to 10 years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'Man jailed for arranging sham marriages, harbouring Viet 'wives''. Print Edition | Subscribe