Charges laid over alleged Commonwealth Games impostors

hand holding handcuffs

This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Border Force.

A 46-year-old Indian national has been charged with offences under the Migration Act 1958, including people smuggling, after allegedly facilitating the travel of a fake media contingent to attend the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Nine individuals arrived at Brisbane Airport yesterday (Wednesday, 28 March 2018) holding Temporary Activity Visas, claiming to be accredited media representatives.

An Australian Border Force (ABF) Airline Liaison Officer (ALO) in Bangkok had flagged the group on transit through Thailand on suspicion they may be non-genuine travellers.

They were questioned by ABF officers on arrival in Brisbane and eight were found to have fraudulent foreign media credentials.

Australian Federal Police officers arrested and charged the ninth person, a 46-year-old Indian national with:

  • one count against Section 233C of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) – Aggravated offence of people smuggling (at least 5 people)
  • one count against Section 234A(1)(c) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) – Aggravated offence of false documents and false or misleading information etc. relating to non-citizens (at least 5 people)

    The maximum penalty for these offences is 20 years in jail.

    Police will allege in court that the 46-year-old Indian national who did hold valid credentials was facilitating the group’s travel.

    ABF Regional Commander Queensland, Terry Price said that while the ABF is working hard to ensure smooth entry for legitimate Commonwealth Games visitors, attempts to exploit the event and Australia’s visa program will not be tolerated.

    “Anyone wishing to enter Australia, including athletes, team officials, spectators and the media, must hold a valid visa and accreditation and must be deemed to be a legitimate visitor,” Commander Price said.

    “As with all travellers, the ABF will process all Commonwealth Games visitors on arrival and anyone found not to be here for legitimate purposes can expect to have their visas cancelled and to be turned around. This may occur on arrival in Australia, or prior to boarding flights to Australia.

    “We have a skilled network of ALOs at key overseas international airports who can identify travellers of concern and stop them travelling or, as in this case, provide real time information to alert colleagues onshore.”

    “The ABF remains highly alert to other similar attempts that may occur as we get closer to the start of the Commonwealth Games.”

    AFP Manager Aviation, Commander Warwick Macfarlane said security measures throughout the lead-up and duration of the Commonwealth Games will be a collaborative effort between law enforcement and domestic partner agencies.

    “AFP officers at Brisbane International Airport will continue to work with partner agencies to maintain a safe and secure environment for all travellers attending the Commonwealth Games”, Commander Warwick Macfarlane said.

    The other eight individuals have been taken into immigration detention. Enquiries are continuing in relation to this matter.

    The 46-year-old Indian national is remanded in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on Friday, 6 April 2018.

    Media Contact:

    AFP National Media: 02 6131 6333

    Australian Border Force Media: 02 6264 2244

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