Tue, May 21, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Immigration firm, school caught up in passport probe

By Huang Chieh, Chiu Shu-yu and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office and the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau yesterday raided offices and residences connected with Chau Morn Consultants Co (喬盟國際顧問) over allegations that the immigration services consultancy was making counterfeit passports.

Chau Morn is alleged to have sold about a dozen fake passports — mostly purporting to be from the Philippines — to Taiwanese attempting to enroll their children as international students at the Asia American International Academy (AAIA) in New Taipei City’s Linkou District (林口), sources said.

Prosecutors have charged six people with forging passports, including Chau Morn owner Wang Chuan-hung (王權宏), they said, adding that the investigation was launched following a tip-off.

The six suspects were questioned, and were likely to be summoned later after a court issued an order to detain them or limit their movements, the sources said.

An unnamed source told the Central News Agency that counterfeit passports were sold for more than NT$100,000 (US$3,186) to parents wishing to enroll their children at the school.

Established in 1991, Chau Morn is the oldest Taiwanese company offering emigration services and also among the best-known, with its consultants often giving media interviews about obtaining foreign citizenship.

K-12 Education Administration official Han Chun-shu (韓春樹) told reporters that the Private School Act (私立學校法) exempts international schools from following education laws, but that local education officials have the authority to expel students enrolling in such schools with fake passports.

AAIA spokeswoman Yao Yun-tsai (姚雲彩) said that the school had not received any information from authorities about the allegations, but that two to three months ago parents told school officials about providing affidavits to the Investigation Bureau.

The school requires prospective students to submit a photocopy of their passport and maintains a list of students’ citizenship status, which is updated annually with the New Taipei City Education Department, she said.

The school is unable to verify the passports provided by students, as only the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can do that, Yao said.

If the government’s investigation substantiates the allegations of fake passports used for enrollment, the school would ask the affected students to leave, she said.

The AAIA opened in 2016 as the first American curriculum school in New Taipei City for grades 6 to 12.

Additional reporting by Hu Po-hsuan and CNA

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