Changi Airport, Singapore. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Changi Airport, Singapore. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A man declared bankrupt in the 1990s after his family’s S$20 million (US$15 million) real estate investment group went bust has been jailed for 28 months for using a counterfeit Philippines passport to leave the country without permission.

Goh Chin Soon, 62, traveled on the passport at least 188 times between March 2011 and July 2012, and faced 69 charges of breaching the Passports Act and Immigration Act, Lianhe Wanbao (Singapore) reported. There were 46 entries for trips in and out of Singapore.

He was declared bankrupt in 2001, after the family company failed to recover from the economic downturn caused by the 1997 East Asian financial crisis. The court heard that Goh left Singapore in 2001 to do some business in China. On April 28, 2010, he tried to renew his passport at the Singapore Consulate General in Xiamen as it was due to expire.

Learning that his mother was terminally ill and needing to travel outside China for business, Goh paid US$250,000 to a friend who arranged for an agent with the surname Wang to get him a Philippine passport. He received the counterfeit document in March 2011, and entered Singapore on March 20 that year.

On February 17, 2012, Goh successfully renewed his Singapore passport in Xiamen, but he continued to use the fake Philippine passport as his travel document because he had not obtained permission to leave Singapore due to his bankruptcy status.

He was arrested by immigration officials while attempting to make his  23th entry into Singapore with the fake passport on September 7, 2012. Goh insisted he had no idea it was fake, saying he had obtained the document through an immigrant investor program. This had involved the purchase of an auto tire manufacturer for US$250,000.

The judge dismissed his claim, saying that the passport was issued one year before his application, and there were immigration stamps that also predated his usage. What’s more, all personal details in the passport other than the photo were for someone else.