Herald Investigation: Case highlights border-control passport loophole

A border security loophole has been exposed by an illegal immigrant who was able to travel to and from New Zealand on false passports - even though one of the travel documents was cancelled.

Cristian Dario Alcalde 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Alcalde identity was false and his passport - a copy of which has been obtained under the Official Information Act - was revoked in November. But he was still able to fly from Auckland to Thailand in January 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 passport was seized in Bangkok. The 40-year-old was deported to Iran where he threatened to return to New Zealand and claim refugee status.

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

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.

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 Alcalde left the country.

She confirmed that there was no shared computer system for pass-ports 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 June 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 passport was discovered.

It's understood Alcalde will claim refugee status.

He was denied bail and will reappear in the Auckland District Court on September 24.

Convoluted trail
* Known as Cristian Dario Alcalde.
* Iranian national born in Chile with New Zealand residency because of his Australian citizenship.
* 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 passport.

Border control

Cristian Dario Alcalde slipped into NZ before the advent of new technology to tighten border control.

Recent changes to the Immigration Act mean biometric information such as fingerprints and photographs can now be recorded and shared with international partners.

Fingerprints have been taken from everyone formally investigated at the border since late last year. These fingerprints will help to confirm identity and will be used to prevent people refused entry from returning under another identity.