Illegal Indian immigrants convicted for biggest UK visa fraud

June 4th, 2009 - 12:56 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 4 (ANI): Three illegal Indian immigrants have been jailed for their role in Britain’s biggest visa fraud. Jatinder Kumar Sharma, 44, and his two wives - Rakhi Shahi, and Neelam Sharma - helped more than a thousand illegal immigrants into the country. Out of them, only 41 have been deported, The Telegraph reports.

The trio became so confident in fooling government officials using false paperwork that Shahi, 31, even offered her services on a no-win, no-fee basis, jurors heard.The three fraudsters, all illegal immigrants themselves, submitted hundreds of visa applications backed by bogus documents, which were rubber-stamped by the Home Office.

Jailing them for a total of 19 years, Judge Richard McGregor-Johnson said: “Various criticisms have been made of the actions of the agencies responsible for checking those documents. Those criticisms are plainly well founded in my view. The checks were woefully inadequate and frequently non-existent. You saw the weaknesses in those systems and dishonestly exploited them.”

Shahi was jailed for eight years after jurors found her guilty of conspiracy to defraud, handling criminal property and immigration offences at Isleworth Crown Court.

Jatinder Sharma, 44, a solicitor, pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy before the trial and was jailed for seven years.

Neelam Sharma, 38, was jailed for four years after being convicted of handling some of the money that poured into the business but cleared of conspiracy to defraud and immigration offences.

Most of those who used the scam were from India but around 150 were from Pakistan, raising fears of a possible terror route.

Working for cash under the company name Univisas, they ran a “fraud factory” creating counterfeit documents, including degree certificates, tax forms and CVs.

Between October 2006 and May last year, Univas submitted 980 applications to the Home Office and raked in 1.5 million pounds in two years, charging around 4,000 pounds per client.

The enterprise, run from their home in Southall, London, was at the centre of a web of false colleges and corrupt employees of genuine institutions who provided bogus documents.

Prosecutor Francis Sheridan said the case presented a “damning indictment” of failures by the UK Border Agency, Home Office and Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner. (ANI)

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