Wed, May 22, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Consultancy firm’s owner released in passport probe

REAL DEAL?Wang Chuan-hung said foreign officials told him the passports were genuine, adding that their sophistication would fool regular verification devices

Staff writer, with CNA

Chau Morn Consultants Co owner Jason Wang is escorted by police as he arrives for questioning at the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Monday.

Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

The owner of an immigration consultancy was yesterday released on NT$1 million (US$31,786) bail after he was on Monday detained for questioning on suspicion of making counterfeit passports.

Acting on a tip, investigators led by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office searched offices and residences connected with Chau Morn Consultants Co (喬盟國際顧問) and detained six suspects, including the owner, Wang Chuan-hung (王權宏).

Chau Morn allegedly sold about a dozen counterfeit passports — mostly purporting to be from the Philippines — to Taiwanese attempting to enroll their children as international students at the Asia American International Academy in New Taipei City’s Linkou District (林口), an unnamed source said.

The counterfeit passports were allegedly sold for more than NT$100,000, the source added.

The office deemed the passports to be counterfeit, as the students do not have Philippine citizenship, an office spokesman said, refusing to disclose further details about an ongoing investigation.

Chien Fang-ling (簡芳玲), chairperson of the government-recognized International Education Consultants Association of study-abroad service providers, is among the suspects and was released on NT$500,000 bail, the office said.

The other four suspects were released on their own recognizance, it said.

While being escorted by police to the prosecutors’ office on Monday night, Wang told reporters that he was deceived by foreign officials, who told him that the passports were genuine.

Wang yesterday said that he used an ultraviolet light to check the authenticity of the passports, adding that regular verification devices were fooled by the sophisticated techniques used in the counterfeit passports.

However, he did not explain on what basis he applied for the passports on the students’ behalf nor whether the students were actually engaged in the process of obtaining foreign citizenship.

The company refused to comment when contacted by the Central News Agency, saying that it had strict instructions from prosecutors not to say anything about the case.

The school, which teaches at the junior and senior-high levels, has since 2016 been offering classes in line with the curriculum followed in California, but only accepts students with foreign passports, the source said.

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