Mainland Chinese sues Hongkongers over forged Guinea-Bissau passport

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 September, 2013, 4:07am

A mainland businesswoman claims she has been cheated of US$46,500 after entering into a written agreement with a local company to help her apply for Guinea-Bissau citizenship.

According to a High Court writ, Li Jinghan went to the West African country's embassy in Beijing to get what she believed was an approved certificate of citizenship and passport. But when she entered Hong Kong and then left the city on her new passport, she was arrested by immigration officers for using forged documents.

The woman, whose businesses include fast-food restaurants, natural gas and construction on the mainland, is suing local middlemen Lim Ying-ying and Lim Tsz-foon for the US$45,600 application fee she paid and legal fees of HK$309,500.

In August last year, Li completed an application form under foreign investment programme provisions and handed the form to Lim Ying-ying for processing.

According to the court document, Guinea-Bissau's interior ministry issued Li with a letter of attestation, informing her the application had been approved.

One of the Lims later accompanied Li and her husband to the embassy, where she received an identity card, a passport and a certificate of citizenship.

In February, Li, using the passport, entered Hong Kong without problems. But a month later, she was arrested at the Shenzhen Bay control point when she tried to leave the city.

The Immigration Department suspected Lin had broken the law by forging, possessing, using and illegally obtaining false documents, but she was later released on bail and told no charges would be laid against her.

The writ, however, said the department had confirmed with the Guinea-Bissau embassy that all the identity documents were indeed forged.

Once hailed as a potential model for African development, Guinea-Bissau, which borders Senegal and Guinea, is now one of the world's poorest countries.

According to reports, the country's vital cashew nut crop provides a modest living for most of its farmers and is the main source of foreign exchange.