Man jailed for arranging sham marriage in visa bid
Wedding guests were complete strangers, and only attended the Brisbane civil ceremony so they could collect $100.
And the newly married couple only tied the knot in a bid to obtain Australian visas and permanent residency.
The event was a sham wedding organised by Chao Hsien Hung and in the end, it not only cost Hung his own marriage but also his freedom.
Hung, 39, helped organise the January 2018 marriage of a woman, a Malaysian citizen, and a man who was a Chinese national in an attempt to assist both to get visas that would allow them to stay in Australia.
To comply with Queensland legislation, they needed two witnesses over the age of 18 to be present for the wedding.
Two men were independently approached and both agreed to attend the civil ceremony for $100 each.
The first time they met the man and woman was at the wedding, Brisbane District Court was told.
Hung used identification and personal details of the two men for supporting documents.
Hung, who was a justice of the peace at the time, witnessed and stamped their statutory declarations which claimed the married couple were in a genuine relationship and had been for many years.
"Their relationship was not genuine, it was a sham marriage," Judge Terry Gardiner said on Wednesday.
As a JP, Hung not only helped organise supporting documents with false information relating to the wedding but also visa applications, the court was told.
"These documents were designed to deceive the Department of Home Affairs into believing that ... (the couple) were in a genuine, married relationship," Judge Gardiner said.
"Motivation for marrying each other was that they could each help each other obtain visas."
There was also financial motivation. The woman negotiated an agreement with Hung where she would receive $30,000 for helping the man get a visa, the court was told.
Hung expected to receive $5000 for his involvement, but he did not receive a cent.
He paid a heavy price however, defence barrister Wayne Tolton said.
His wife and mother of his two children left him as a direct result of his offending, Mr Tolton said.
"The wife apparently couldn't stand the shame that he had brought upon the family and felt unable to live with him any longer," he said.
Hung told police he was the "middle man", saying clients who wanted permanent residency in Australia would be referred to him through friends.
Hung's offending had the potential to undermine Australia's immigration system, the court was told.
"In my view it does make it potentially more difficult for the Department of Home Affairs to discover unlawful schemes," Judge Gardiner said.
"Your position as a justice of the peace and your willing misuse of that position which was instrumental in creating the false documents should be the subject of condemnation by the court."
Hung pleaded guilty to two counts of arranging a marriage to obtain permanent residence and seven counts of providing false documents with misleading information relating to non-citizens.
He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
Hung will be released on a two-and-a-half year, $2000 good behaviour bond after serving four months.