SINGAPORE: A 45-year-old Singaporean man pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Feb 20) to making false statements and submitting fake documents, in order to bring two boys born via surrogacy in India into Singapore.
The man successfully obtained Singapore citizenship for one of them, discovering only later that he is not the biological father of the twins.
The man, identified as "A" in court documents, went to India with his 35-year-old Singaporean wife in September 2013 for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) as they could not conceive.
They went accompanied by A's friend and his friend's wife, who also had trouble conceiving.
In India, they met a doctor who set out two plans for A and his wife to conceive.
In the first, the wife's eggs were to be fertilised with the accused's sperm. A donor's eggs would also be fertilised by the accused's sperm, and all the fertilised eggs in this scenario would be implanted into the wife's womb.
In the second scenario, eggs from both the wife and a donor would be fertilised by both the accused's and his friend's sperm. These fertilised eggs were to be implanted into a surrogate's womb.
The prosecution did not elaborate why the friend's sperm came into play in this equation, or on the exact combinations.
SURROGATE GETS PREGNANT, BUT IT'S NOT THE ACCUSED'S CHILDREN
After the IVF procedures, both the accused and his wife returned to Singapore. They were later told that the surrogate was pregnant with twins.
The accused's wife did not manage to conceive. It was not stated in court, nor did the prosecution elaborate on, who the biological parents of the twins are.
However, the court heard that a DNA report in 2015 revealed that the accused could not have been the biological father of the boys.
The surrogate gave birth to twins on Jul 16, 2014, and the accused began preparations to bring them to Singapore.
Since the accused knew that only Indian nationals could take custody of the children conceived via surrogacy in India, he had arranged for his former Indian helper and her husband to take custody.
He planned to later adopt the child from the helper and her husband.
However, this did not work out, as the maid was "not ready to take over custody", the prosecution said.
The accused then returned to Mumbai and hired a man known as Guru to help him with the paperwork for the boys.
Guru told him that he had missed the deadline to register the births of the boys with the authorities, and asked for 100,000 rupees (S$1,896) to obtain birth certificates.
The accused gave him the money, and Guru said he would indicate that the accused and his wife were the birth parents of the boys.
He also forged the dates of birth to coincide with a time when the accused's wife was in India, so as to minimise discrepancies and not draw any questions from the authorities.
ONE OF THE BOYS FALLS ILL, 'FATHER' ARRANGES TO BRING HIM TO SINGAPORE FOR TREATMENT
While the accused was waiting for the birth certificates to be ready, one of the twin boys fell sick with a life-threatening condition.
The accused wanted to bring the boy to Singapore for treatment, "as he did not have confidence in the medical facilities in India", Deputy Public Prosecutor Selene Yap said.
He contacted the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on Sep 3, 2014, saying he needed a valid travel document to bring the sick boy from India to Singapore urgently for surgery.
He was told to submit an application form for Singapore citizenship for the boys, to facilitate the application for a valid travel document.
Accordingly, the accused downloaded the form and filled it up, declaring that he was the sick boy's father.
The boy was successfully registered as a Singapore citizen two days later and travelled to Singapore on Sep 7, 2014.
Armed with false birth certificates, the accused and his wife went to the Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore, India in September 2014, where they received a Document of Identity issued in lieu of a passport for the sick boy.
The consular officer granted the Document of Identity allowing the boy to travel to Singapore, unaware that the birth certificate was false.
ACCUSED'S WIFE FILES POLICE REPORT REVEALING WHAT HAPPENED
On Oct 10, 2014, the accused's wife lodged a police report stating that her husband had obtained fake documentation in relation to twin boys born by a surrogate in India and had submitted them to the High Commission of Singapore in India.
The accused pleaded guilty on Wednesday to furnishing a false document, using a forged document as genuine, and knowingly making a false statement in an application for Singapore citizenship.
The prosecutor did not comment when asked where the boys are now. She asked for a sentence of at least six months, saying it strikes at the heart of immigration laws.
The sentencing was adjourned to next month for the preparation of the accused's medical and psychiatric reports.
The provision of surrogacy services is illegal in Singapore. Parents who have gone overseas for surrogacy and return to apply for adoption of their surrogate children will have their applications assessed on a "case-by-case basis", Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said in Parliament last month.
Singapore is looking into the issue of surrogacy and reviewing adoption laws after a landmark case where the high court allowed a gay father to adopt his biological child conceived via surrogacy in the United States.