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Fake document Chinese national who paid €20k to illegally obtain passport avoids jail

Xianxing Lu (33) said Irish man who supplied a fake certificate of naturalisation told him “everything was legal”

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Xianxing Lu. Pic: Collins Courts

Xianxing Lu. Pic: Collins Courts

Xianxing Lu. Pic: Collins Courts

A Chinese national who paid €20,000 in order to illegally obtain an Irish passport after his visa expired has received a fully suspended sentence.

Xianxing Lu (33) told gardaí he paid the money to an Irish man who told him he worked for the government and that “everything was legal”. The man gave him what transpired to be a false certificate of naturalisation which he used to apply for a passport.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Lu's visa expired two months after his daughter was born in Ireland.

Lu with an address at Ivy Exchange, Parnell Street, Dublin city centre, pleaded guilty to providing false documentation when making a passport application in Dublin on October 29, 2015. He has no previous convictions.

Detective Garda Cian Stears told Diane Stuart BL, prosecuting, that a passport application was received on the date in October and a passport was issued to the accused man. An investigation was later launched to determine whether the certificate of naturalisation which was submitted during the application was a false document.

Det Gda Stears said that when he was first spoken to by gardaí, Lu voluntarily gave them the Irish passport which had been issued to him.

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Xianxing Lu. Pic: Collins Courts

Xianxing Lu. Pic: Collins Courts

Xianxing Lu. Pic: Collins Courts

In interview with gardaí, Lu said he had come to Ireland in 2008 with a student visa to study English. He said his partner, who came from the same province of China, joined him in 2013 and their daughter was born in Ireland in 2015.

Lu said that two months after his daughter was born his visa expired and he could not get it renewed. He said he wrote to the Department of Justice for help and also asked his Chinese friends for help, one of whom said she had gotten a genuine Irish passport with the help of an Irish man.

The accused met with the Irish man who told him an Irish passport would cost €20,000. He told the accused that “everything was legal” and that he worked for the government.

Lu said he paid the man €10,000. In October 2015 he met with the man again and was given an Irish naturalisation certificate which he thought was genuine.

He said he filled out the passport application himself, aside from the part which had to be completed in a garda station which the Irish man said he would take care of. Lu received the passport in November 2015 and paid the Irish man the remaining €10,000.

Det Gda Stears agreed with John Moher BL, defending, that his client borrowed €7,000 from his mother and the remainder of the money came from savings. The detective agreed that Lu and his partner both work and have a “modest income”.

Mr Moher said his client has always worked since coming to Ireland and has worked for 10 years in a warehouse where he is now a manager. He said his client's daughter being born in Ireland did not help the family legally regarding their status.

Counsel said this was an “unusual type of fraud” in that his client is “down” €20,000. He asked the court not to impose a custodial sanction in this case.

Judge Pauline Codd said it was “simply not credible” Lu could have believed the certificate was genuine in view of the circumstances in which he acquired it.

Judge Codd said it was clear that persons like the accused are at the lowest rung of criminality in these types of offending. She said it was clear that “nefarious characters are at the top end” and the likes of the accused are “exploited in that regard”.

She said she was not suggesting that Lu was the victim, saying it was clear that the State is the victim. She said it was clear that he paid out a substantial amount of money to someone who acted “under the guise of a saviour” to him.

Judge Codd said the “entire operation was wrong and unlawful” and that had to be “obvious” to the accused. She said that “at the core of all this the court must protect the integrity of Irish passports”.

She sentenced Lu to three years imprisonment, but suspended the entirety of the sentence on strict conditions.

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