Fugitive Singaporean surrenders to Aussie cops

SYDNEY: A fugitive Singaporean businessman at the centre of a political furore in Australia has surrendered to police and faces repatriation, Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said yesterday.  

Ruddock said Jim Foo was being held by immigration authorities while his case was being assessed. 

Foo overstayed his visa after arriving in Australia in 1994 and rubbed shoulders with senior politicians, including Ruddock and Prime Minister John Howard, even though he was an illegal immigrant. 

He went into hiding earlier this year after his illegal status and the fact that he was wanted by Interpol over an alleged property fraud in Singapore became public. 

Ruddock said Foo contacted Australian Federal Police to hand himself in on Wednesday and had immediately applied for his release from custody on a so-called bridging visa, which was refused. 

He said authorities were working on Foo's deportation but there had been no extradition request from any other country. 

“He is not wanted by Australian criminal justice authorities and so the advice is to us that he isn't of interest to them at this time,” he told ABC radio. 

“We have an obligation under the Migration Act in relation to people who are unlawful to remove them so we would endeavour to make those arrangements as soon as possible.” 

Ruddock played down reports he had been Foo's dining partner, saying the businessman had unsuccessfully lobbied him for changes to regional migration laws. 

“In the end nobody was introduced who did qualify, nobody got a visa and so for all his trouble there were no visas, no special concessions,” he said. – AFP 

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