RCMP are investigating a former Steveston business owner accused of bigamy and immigration fraud by his wife from Taiwan.
Vivian Wang, 55, a business owner in Taiwan, was introduced to her husband, a café owner in Steveston at the time, through a common friend in 2020. After chatting online for two years, Wang came to Vancouver where the couple lived together for two months before registering for marriage at the Vital Statistics office in Vancouver last June.
Just when Wang was looking forward to a new life with her new husband, she discovered he had married another woman, just three weeks after their marriage registration.
The RCMP said they are investigating the case and are looking into whether a bigamy charge might be proven.
Alleged bigamy and immigration fraud
Wang showed the Richmond News her marriage certificate, dated June 28, 2022, and another marriage certificate she said her husband accidently sent to her with his name and date of birth, but with another woman’s name, dated July 19, 2022. It appears that both marriage certificates were issued by the same Vital Statistics office in Vancouver.
Vital Statistics of B.C. did not respond to the News’ request by the time the article was published.
“I was in Taiwan preparing for moving to Canada to live with him permanently when I found out that he married another woman here in B.C. I was in shock,” said Wang, who immediately flew to Vancouver to confront her husband, a permanent resident of Canada.
“He told me he only married the other woman to help her get permanent residency. He said he only loves me and was loyal to me.”
Despite his declarations, Wang reported the situation to the RCMP, who told the News they are also investigating the man for possible immigration fraud, which would involve the Canada Border Services Agency.
“I still can’t wrap my head around how this could happen. How could he get married twice with no one questioning it? Don’t they check the person’s status when they register for marriage here in Canada? They do that in Taiwan,” said Wang to the News.
“I kept asking, why did this happen to me? I want to raise this issue because I don’t want other victims to experience the same and suffer like me.”
Wang’s husband, whose business has since gone under, has left for China “to take care of his elderly father,” according to Wang.
Wang admitted she has provided her husband with financial support throughout their three-year relationship but refused to say how much.
Incomplete marriage record leaves room for bigamy
Lawrence Wong, a lawyer from Lawrence Wong & Associates, told the News that under the current system, it’s not easy for the registry office to get an applicant’s complete vital statistics records, so the office often relies on the honour system.
“Divorcing is a federal matter and marriage is a provincial matter, so the registry might not have access to someone’s divorce record,” said Wong.
“Plus, it won’t show if the person gets divorced abroad, so the record is not complete. So a lot of the time, it relies on the applicants to provide an honest answer about their marriage status.”
On the B.C. government’s website, it states that “Vital Statistics does not register divorces. If you married in B.C. but then divorced, the search will only list the marriage.”
However, in this case there was no divorce, just two marriages within a month registered at the same B.C. office.
“It doesn’t mean people can just marry as many times as they want, though, because committing bigamy is a criminal offence, but it is not easy to identify in advance,” said Wong.
People committing bigamy can be sentenced for up to five years in prison in Canada.
However, Wang found the explanation unacceptable.
“Why can’t they just stop people from committing bigamy in the first place when they try to register, instead of letting it happen, instead of expecting the victim to report to the police and deal with all the stress,” said Wang.
Wong added that if what Wang claims is true and a bigamy is confirmed by authorities, the second marriage of Wang’s husband should be invalided and cannot be used for immigration purpose.
Despite all that, Wang said if her husband is willing to admit his mistake, she will consider giving him another chance.