Fraud marriage broker denied flight for sentencing

A scam marriage broker’s efforts to return to Christchurch for sentencing for fraud have been scuppered by immigration which has refused to let her fly in from Australia.

The woman tried to board a flight in Sydney last week but was turned around at the airport because Australian authorities were told New Zealand immigration would not let her in because of her conviction – the one she’s due to be sentenced for.

Li Jun Xue, 60, was meant to be sentenced in the Christchurch District Court today on a charge of obtaining $35,000 by deception from a Wellington man for a marriage deal involving another woman.

She was convicted at a judge-alone trial before Judge Tom Gilbert in June and was allowed to return to Australia – where she now lives – while she was on bail awaiting sentence.

She has paid the $35,000 reparations to the court, and it has been paid to the victim, but when she was due to be sentenced on September 9 and November 4, she sent messages that she was too ill to travel because of high blood pressure.

At the last call of the case in November, Judge Gilbert said that if she did not turn up a third time, an arrest warrant would be issued.

That warrant would have been issued today, but the case has just been put on hold while immigration decides what will happen next.

Before the scheduled appearance, defence counsel Alister James told the court what had happened. He had a copy of the airline ticket that Xue had booked to fly from Sydney. She was stopped at Sydney Airport and not let on the flight because she would not have been allowed to enter New Zealand.

Mr James pointed out that the conviction that is stopping her entering New Zealand is the one she is due to be sentenced for.

She was told by the authorities that she would have to have a New Zealand visa in order to enter the country. She has now applied for a visa but immigration has said it will take five weeks to process.

The third sentencing date will be rescheduled to sometime after that.

The trial was told that the Wellington man answered a newspaper advertisement in The Dominion-Post on June 26, 2016, offering a 45-year-old Singaporean woman for companionship and possible marriage.

He contacted Xue who arranged for him to meet “Jessica”, who turned out to be Malaysian.

The other woman also turned out to be already married and the victim was told that if he paid another $10,000 a divorce could be arranged.

The police prosecution said Xue knew she was married. They produced a marriage certificate showing that Xue and the man described as her husband had been witnesses at the wedding in Wollongong, Australia, on September 21, 2012.

Judge Gilbert convicted Xue after hearing evidence from the victim, bank officers, and a police witness. He found that Xue had received some or possibly all of the $35,000 proceeds from the scam.

The victim gave evidence that he was devastated to discover that Jessica’s immigration status was not what Xue had told him, and then that she was already married to an Australian.

Xue was being considered for a home detention sentence ahead of her sentencing.

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