The High Court dismissed the appeal of Ng Chong Lin, 45, a lawyer who had fled Singapore to the US while on bail when he faced jail time for forgery in 2003.
Ng’s story failed to convince the High Court on 27 January 2017, which dismissed his appeal against the conviction for cheating by personation and producing a misleading document to an immigration officer.
Ng’s misdeeds were first revealed in 2003, when he was brought to court for forgery and other charges related to a company in which he was a director. He had been sentenced to three years and three months’ jail then.
Ng filed an appeal and was granted bail, then applied for a new passport and was issued one with his photograph but which bore the name of a Wee Pui Kui. He then used this passport to leave for New York two days before his appeal was to be heard.
Ng lived in the US for 12 years as a lawyer, using at least seven aliases, and from 2006 to 2009, had used the name and registration number of a real attorney to file documents to the federal authorities for individuals in various immigration matters.
In 2010, as ‘Daveng Wee’, he was caught by US authorities and jailed for four years for identity theft in impersonating an attorney among other charges. His real identity was revealed after his fingerprints were sent to Singapore.
Ng was deported and handed over to Singapore authorities, and in June 2016, a district judge hearing the case called Ng an “inveterate liar” and sentenced him to 40 months’ jail for cheating by personation and producing a misleading document to an immigration officer.
In court, Ng insisted that he had applied for a passport using his own identity card and did not realise he had been issued one that had the particulars instead of one Wee Pui Kui.
He claimed he did not spot the error right until after his departure: from the time he collected his passport, when he booked his air ticket, and when he checked in and cleared immigration at Changi Airport. He told the court that he noticed the error only after arriving in New York, but he didn’t think to seek help from the Singapore Embassy in the US.
Ng’s appeal against his sentence, as well as the shelved appeal from 2003, was heard and dismissed by the High Court.