Jared Savage

Jared Savage is the New Zealand Herald's investigations editor.

False-passport case highlights gap in NZ's border security

Cristian Dario Alcalde faces 11 passport-related charges after his arrest last September and was denied bail as he is considered a flight risk. Photo / Thinkstock
Cristian Dario Alcalde faces 11 passport-related charges after his arrest last September and was denied bail as he is considered a flight risk. Photo / Thinkstock

Police allege an illegal immigrant living here on a false Australian passport was also able to obtain three other false passports - including two from New Zealand.

Cristian Dario Alcalde faces 11 passport-related charges after his arrest last September and was denied bail as he is considered a flight risk.

He has been charged with possession of two false New Zealand passports, prized as a travel document worldwide, and conspiring to obtain more.

The 41-year-old was living in Auckland as a New Zealand resident with his family because of his status as a citizen of Australia.

Australian authorities then discovered the Alcalde identity was false and his passport - a copy of which has been obtained under the Official Information Act - was revoked in November 2011.

But he was still able to fly from Auckland to Thailand a few months later on the invalid travel document.

The case has highlighted a border-control loophole in which someone can use a revoked foreign passport unless New Zealand authorities have been formally notified.

New Zealand police alerted Thai authorities and his false Australian passport was seized in Bangkok. He was deported to Iran where he threatened to return to New Zealand.

Alcalde was able to fly back to Christchurch undetected in late August using a British passport, police allege.

He was arrested a week later in Auckland by detectives from the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand and charged with two counts of using a forged passport.

Nine further charges were laid later, including the alleged possession of two New Zealand passports.

Asked how Alcalde was able to leave New Zealand using a cancelled passport, a spokeswoman said Immigration NZ was not notified by Australian passport fraud investigators until February 16 - a month after he had departed.

She confirmed that there was no shared computer system for passports with Australia or any other country.

Alcalde was also able to slip back into New Zealand despite recent law changes that allow the collection of biometric information, such as fingerprints and photographs, to be shared with countries such as Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States.

The Herald can also reveal he changed his name in New Zealand by deed poll last to Christian Daneshian, the name under which he is listed in electoral rolls at an Auckland address.

He is still listed as a company director under the Alcalde identity.

Alcalde had a permanent New Zealand residence visa because of his Australian citizenship, which was cancelled when his false Australian passport was discovered.

Convoluted trail

•Known as Cristian Dario Alcalde.

•Iranian national with New Zealand residency because of his Australian citizenship. Changed his name to Christian Daneshian.

•Australian passport was discovered to be false and revoked.

•But Alcalde was able to travel overseas because Immigration authorities not told about false passport.

•Able to come back into the country under another name.

•Arrested a week later and charged with using a false British passport.

•Facing 11 charges including possession of two false New Zealand passports and conspiring to obtain others.

- NZ Herald

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