Chinese national jailed for fraudulent attempt to bring baby into New Zealand
A woman who tried to fraudulently bring a baby into New Zealand will spend more than two years behind bars for lying to immigration officials.
Haiyan Luo, a Chinese citizen with New Zealand permanent residency, was sentenced at the Waitakere District Court on Tuesday to 26 months' imprisonment for providing false or misleading information to an immigration officer.
The 46-year-old gave multiple fake documents to Immigration NZ in 2012 while trying to prove the baby was her son.
Officials in Hong Kong raised concerns about her paperwork, and a subsequent investigation revealed she had never given birth to the child.
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Luo first arrived in New Zealand in 1999 and became a resident here because she was married to a New Zealand citizen.
In September 2008 she married Xianghua Zeng, another Chinese national, and sponsored him for residency in New Zealand.
On 22 May 2012 her immigration consultant provided a letter to Immigration NZ (INZ) that said a child had been born to the couple in China. A further letter the following day explained why Luo had returned to China to give birth to the baby.
Luo provided multiple other documents to INZ including pregnancy records, a birth certificate, and an immunisation report for her supposed child. She requested the infant be included as part of her new husband's residency application.
INZ officers raised flags while trying to verify the information Luo had provided, and later discovered she had fabricated the pregnancy.
The child was not the biological offspring of Luo and her husband, and they had not formally adopted the baby.
In 2015, Luo admitted she had faked the paperwork, and explained she wanted to save the child the embarrassment of knowing he was adopted.
That excuse did not hold in court, and she was sentenced to 26 months behind bars.
The maximum penalty for providing false or misleading information to an immigration officer is seven years imprisonment, or a $100,000 fine.
Alistair Murray, compliance and investigations area manager for INZ, said Luo's sentence served as a strong deterrent for other would-be fraudsters.
"This type of offending using immigration processes to try and fraudulently bring a child into New Zealand, and indeed any type of fraudulent behaviour, will not be tolerated by Immigration NZ," he said.
Luo was also sentenced to 19 months behind bars for tax evasion - meaning she'll spend a total of three years and nine months in prison.