Woman paid €22,000 for false documents in effort to get Irish passport

Chinese national Chunling Chen (33) given suspended sentence by judge in Dublin court

A woman who paid €22,000 to obtain false documentation in order to receive an Irish passport has received a fully suspended sentence at  Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

A woman who paid €22,000 to obtain false documentation in order to receive an Irish passport has received a fully suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

 

A woman who paid €22,000 to obtain false documentation in order to receive an Irish passport has received a fully suspended sentence.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Chunling Chen (33), a Chinese national, was given assurances that the “somewhat exploitative operation” was a legitimate process and that she could obtain a passport by paying large sums of money.

Chen, of St Peters Road, Walkinstown, pleaded guilty to providing false or misleading documentation during a passport application at the Passport Office, Stephenstown, Balbriggan, on October 29th, 2015. She also pleaded guilty to possession of a false instrument, to wit a false Irish nationalisation certificate, at her address on July 17th, 2018. She has no previous convictions.

The investigating garda told John Byrne BL, prosecuting, that Chen had been in Ireland since around 2008. She knew she was illegally in Ireland in 2015 when she made the application for a passport and had never registered with immigration authorities.

Chen was put into contact by another Chinese national with individuals who obtained the documentation needed to obtain a passport. She paid a total of €22,000 to the individuals for the documentation.

The accused was detected by gardaí­ as part of a wider investigation, the focus of which was the facilitator of the false documentation. Her address was searched in 2018 and gardaí­ discovered the false nationalisation certificate.

The investigating garda agreed with defence counsel that Chen believed she could obtain a passport by paying large sums of money and was given assurances that this was a legitimate process. He agreed there was “an element of victimisation” in this case.

Counsel submitted that his client had a child in 2012 who resides in China and whom she has not seen in 7½ years. He said that part of the reason Chen was trying to nationalise as an Irish citizen was so she could see her son.

Judge Pauline Codd said this was a “somewhat exploitative operation”, but said she found it hard to accept the accused did not know it was illegal. She accepted Chen had not obtained the passport for criminal purposes. Judge Codd sentenced Chen to two years imprisonment which she suspended in full.