The wife of a Tauranga man jailed for more than two years after he created a fake identity to obtain New Zealand residency has narrowly escaped prison for also committing immigration fraud.
Aneela Wati, 64, was sentenced to nine months' home detention and 120 hours community work when she appeared in the Tauranga District Court before Judge Christopher Harding yesterday.
Last month Wati pleaded guilty to a charge of producing a visa at Auckland International Airport on May 23, 2004, knowing it was obtained fraudulently.
Wati is the wife of Satya Nand, who created a new identity in the name of Rana Khan to stay in the country after his visitor's visa expired on January 12, 1997.
Nand told Immigration NZ officials he was born in India, went to Bangladesh when he was 1, and at 18 his whole family was massacred by a group of Bangladeshis.
He claimed he was persecuted, beaten up and stabbed at a Bangladesh refugee camp, so made his way to Hong Kong where he lived unlawfully for two years, before arriving in Tauranga as a stowaway onboard a ship.
Nand, who was in fact in New Zealand and Fiji the entire time, was granted several work permits, New Zealand residency and obtained citizenship using his bogus identity.
In February he was jailed for two years nine months in the Tauranga District Court in relation to a representative charge of using false documentation to obtain a benefit.
The Summary of Facts also revealed that in 1989, after the dissolution of Wati's marriage to Nand, she remained in Fiji and raised their four children.
Between 2001 and 2008 Nand made 10 trips to Fiji and reunited with Wati, but continued to use his false identity.
Wati remarried her former husband in Fiji on June 10, 2002, and lodged a resident visa application with the NZ Immigration Service in Fiji based on her marriage to Rana Khan.
In support of her residence application, her eldest son provided a letter of support, and Wati lodged a sponsorship declaration created by Nand in Tauranga in May 2002.
On April 15, 2004, she and three of her children were granted New Zealand residency visas.
Wati was aware her husband was using a false identity but failed to disclose the falsehoods to New Zealand immigration officials.
She claimed she met her husband at a nightclub in 2001, the court heard.
On her arrival at Auckland International Airport on May 23, 2004, Wati presented her New Zealand residence visa and was granted entry and a residence permit.
Judge Harding told Wati her offending would normally attract more than 18 months' prison and warned her to fully comply with all the conditions of her sentence.
In a written statement Immigration New Zealand's assistant general manager Peter Devoy said the fraudulent behaviour by this couple was "despicable" and would not be tolerated.
"The family had an elaborate story about Nand's fabricated refugee past and his dream of living in New Zealand. These actions were despicable, especially considering the suffering many genuine refugees experience," Devoy said.
"As with all visa applications, the responsibility is on the applicant to ensure they provide genuine and accurate information as part of their visa application. The officers involved in this case worked diligently to identify the fraud that led to this case coming to court, " he said.