Gang That Arranged Fake Marriages Between Asian Men And European Women Busted in UK
The gang denied a plot to circumvent immigration rules but were convicted of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
A gang, which arranged for Asian men to meet Eastern European brides, making £500,000 off their sham weddings for immigration purposes, has been jailed, the Daily Mail reported. The language barrier between the bride and groom was so high that they had to resort to using Google translate during nuptials, the Old Bailey court heard.
The gang, which was led by Sainsbury’s workers Ayaz Khan, 32, and Jurgita Pavlovskyte, 25, arranged at least 13 fake weddings. Eleven grooms from Pakistan, one from India and one from Bangladesh wanted to remain in the United Kingdom after their student visas expired. Twelve of the fake brides were from Lithuania while one was from the Czech Republic.
The two convicts used the photographs taken at these wedding with forged job offers to convince immigration officials to grant residency to the grooms.
Khan hails from Pakistan and looked into the groom side of the business while his Lithuanian wife Pavlovskyte looked out for the brides. The pair, along with Muhammad Saqlain, 32, and Diana Stankevic, 26, were all convicted of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration on April 4.
To get a residency in the United Kingdom, non-European Union nationals have to prove that they are married to national from the European Union.
The gang was paid by the grooms to find European brides and sort out paperwork for them. The money went for flights, wedding expenses, payment of a few hundred pounds to the bride, but largely into the organizer’s pockets.
Prosecutor Tom Forster QC told the Old Bailey Court: “The Home Office was fooled. This was not a genuine marriage. This was a put up job. Residency rights are very valuable indeed.”
Judge Rebecca Poulet, QC, told Khan and Pavloskyte in her judgement: “Between 2011 and 2015 you operated a conspiracy to assist in the unlawful immigration of non-EU nationals for a profit. The scheme involved male Pakistani nationals and female Lithuanian nationals for the purpose of sham marriages which can also be referred to as a marriage of convenience. You regarded it as a business and referred to it as such.”
The gang repeatedly breached the UK immigration laws for a number of years, the judge said, calling Khan the “central force of the conspiracy and the heart of organization.”
Khan, Pavlovskyte, Stankevic and Saqlain denied a plot to circumvent immigration rules but were convicted of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
Khan was awarded six years in jail while Pavlovskyte was given a five year term. Saqlain, who acted as a mediator, and Stankevic were both given three years in jail.