Canadian immigration officials may deport a Chinese woman accused of distributing fake TransLink passes, allegedly manufactured by her husband in China.

Xiao Chen and her husband Jiahao Wen were both charged with forgery and using a forged document last month.

Wen is now believed to be in China but Chen appeared at an immigration detention hearing in Vancouver on Monday.

Immigration counsel Renee Wyslouzil argued the nature of the allegations against Chen and the quality of the transit passes allegedly produced — with security features — made her a flight risk, capable of obtaining high quality forged documents needed to change identities and go underground.

She said Chen gave several different addresses to transit police on her arrest. They allegedly ultimately tracked her down to a Burnaby address through surveillance.

Ability to comply

But Immigration and Refugee Tribunal member Geoff Rempel rejected this argument and ordered her released on a $5,000 bond.

He said the charges against Chen are unproven in criminal court and she has demonstrated an ability to comply with terms and conditions through bail in her criminal case. 

Chen, who is a student and has made several visits to Canada in the past, was released pending an admissibility hearing next month to determine if she has to return to China.

The charges against Chen and Wen followed an announcement by transit police last month of charges against five other individuals, following an eight month investigation.

Three Vancouver residents and two foreign nationals have been charged in connection with the case. Officials say a third foreign national as been deported.

Police claim counterfeit two-zone monthly FareCard passes were being produced in China and sold at a slightly reduced price of between $90 and $100 each, through ads in Chinese and English on social networking websites.


UPDATE  | 1:45 p.m. PT, Sept. 18, 2014

On Feb. 28, 2012, the Immigration and Refugee Board ruled Xiao Chen inadmissible to Canada for organized criminality.

Tribunal member Michael McPhalen said he believed she was buying fare cards and taking pictures of them for the purposes of a counterfeiting operation that was making upwards of $70,000 worth of fake tickets a month. 

He rejected Chen's explanation that she was innocent and that someone else was using her phone.

"This was a sophisticated operation," McPhalen said.

"It was making forgeries that were of such a high quality that apparently they would fool most Transit Police."

McPhalen said it was also not necessary to obtain a Criminal Code conviction to rule someone inadmissible.

"[Canada Border Services Agency] chose an alternate way of dealing with you. Rather than wait to see if a criminal conviction was obtained against you, they used the organized criminality provisions of the act and I'm aware of nothing in the act, or in any case authorities that would preclude CBSA from acting in this way."

Read the IRB decision. On mobile? Click here

With files from the CBC's Jason Proctor