Adoption chief used Vietnam fraudster as a tour guide

Date: 2006-07-11

THE registrar of the Irish Adoption Board employed corrupt adoption facilitator My Linh Soland to act as a guide last week - despite the fact that she was under investigation by his organisation and the gardai.

Kiernan Gildea travelled to Vietnam with a scout group on a volunteering holiday which also included sightseeing excursions.

It was just one week after the Adoption Board announced its investigation and called in the gardai to examine Ms Soland's past.

Ms Soland (65) met Mr Gildea and the children at Ho Chi Minh airport and acted as translator and guide for the group part of the time they were in Vietnam.

The Adoption Board announced on June 16 they were investigating reports that Ms Soland had a criminal record for fraud and intimidation of witnesses.

She served three years in a US prison for fraud but two years ago was appointed as the only person authorised to facilitate Vietnamese adoptions into Ireland.

Last week, in a series of secretly recorded meetings with an Irish Independent journalist, Ms Soland revealed that all the Irish adoptions relied on forged paperwork and corrupt payments.

Believing that the journalist wanted to open an adoption agency in Northern Ireland when British adoptions reopen in the new year, My Linh detailed how children's paperwork is forged and their histories distorted to make them available for lucrative international adoption.

She also revealed that the humanitarian aid component of the fee between $4,500 and $7,000 is stolen by corrupt officials. This money then ensures that children are removed from their parents on spurious child welfare grounds or are taken illegally and put up for adoption.

But despite the international investigations that were being conducted into Ms Soland's criminal record, Mr Gildea continued with an existing arrangement to spend his holidays with Ms Soland.

The Irish Independent has seen an email sent by Mr Gildea to Ms Soland on June 20, four days after the Adoption Board announced they were investigating her past and allegations she was involved in serious criminal activity. The email was sent from Mr Gildea's Adoption Board address and states;

"Dear My Linh, I'm sorry to hear of all the trouble you're going through at the moment. . . I'm just writing to confirm that my Scouts still hope to go through with their project to paint the orphanage in Vung Tau and I hope you might still be in a position to help us as planned. . . Looking forward to seeing you next week. . . Yours sincerely, Kiernan."

Mr Gildea and his group then travelled to Vietnam where they were met by Ms Soland at Ho Chi Minh airport.

She acted as a guide and interpreter during their trip and brought them to Vung Tau orphanage which they helped to repaint.

Irish parents have recently adopted children from Vung Tau province through Ms Soland.

She also helped Mr Gildea and the group with a number of tourist excursions.

She accompanied the group acting as a fixer, guide and interpreter.

Ms Soland's association with Mr Gildea and his group continued even though the Vietnamese American was forced, in the middle of the holiday, to resign from further involvement in Vietnamese adoptions to Ireland.

Ms Soland's earned over US$1m from the 150 Irish inter-country adoptions.

John Keegan, the director of services at the Adoption Board, confirmed that Mr Gildea is on "sanctioned annual leave" and was currently uncontactable.

- Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer


Pound Pup Legacy