A bent accountant who illegally aided clients of an international sham marriage gang stay in the UK has been jailed for more than 5 years, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) reports.
Soloman Adekotujo, 58, of Heaton House, Heaton Road, Peckham, produced fraudulent reference letters and payslips used for applications to the Home Office from European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, claiming they were exercising their treaty rights by working at his business. These individuals were actually part of a sham marriage ring to help non EEA nationals to remain in the UK illegally.
Adekotujo was found guilty on 11 March 2013 of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and fraud following a six-day trial at Woolwich Crown Court.Watch movie online Rings (2017)
He was sentenced to five years and six months for the immigration charge and three months for the fraud charge, to run concurrently, at the same court on Friday 12 April.
The UKBA reported:
“When specialist investigators from the Home Office’s South London immigration crime team raided Adekotujo’s businesses – Solomon and Co, Scul Consulting and Moora Cargo Services – on the Old Kent Road in October 2012 they found letters of employment and accountancy documentation for the EEA nationals but no evidence that they had ever lived in the UK.
“Officers linked Adekotujo to the sham marriage gang run by Nigerian nationals, which arranged for EEA ‘brides’ and ‘grooms’ to marry West Africans in return for cash.”
The beneficiaries of the eight sham ‘marriages’ arranged by this criminal network have been identified and steps are being taken to remove them from the UK. Immigration officers in The Netherlands have also arrested alleged fake brides and grooms and prosecution is ongoing.
Waheed Salau, the ringleader of the ‘fixer’ gang, of Myrtle Road, Romford, is currently serving a four-and-a-half year jail sentence after admitting conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration in April 2012.
Salau’s partner, Esther Obatuyi, also of Myrtle Road, was sentenced alongside him for the same offence. Accomplice Daniel Onasanya, of Lillechurch Road, Dagenham, is serving eight months for seeking leave to remain by deception.
Among those that Adekotujo falsely claimed worked for him were Dutch nationals Doanne Spanner and Soraida Decaster. Spanner was involved in a sham marriage to Salau to enable him to remain in the UK and assisted with travel arrangements as part of the criminal network. It is believed the ‘bride’ was an imposter as she and Salau never met in person.
Spanner was extradited from The Netherlands in October 2012 and sentenced to 18 months in prison after admitting conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration in the UK.
Decaster entered a sham marriage with Onasanya, although it is believed the bride was also an imposter, and has been arrested in Holland. Neither Spanner or Decaster have ever lived in the UK despite Adekotujo producing pay slips and letters to make it seem as if they had.
Hannah Shirley, from the Home Office immigration crime team in London, said:
“The sentence given to Adekotujo sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate abuse of our immigration system.
“This result, and the outcome of the other linked investigation, demonstrates the severity of this offence. Those who facilitate sham marriages are breaking the law and will be held accountable for their actions.
“This case shows how we work closely with partners in European law enforcement agencies to catch those involved in this kind of illegal activity.
“The Home Office is cracking down on sham marriages and those who seek to cheat immigration laws face prosecution and conviction.”
The South London Immigration Crime Team is a specialist unit of seconded officers from the Metropolitan Police working alongside warranted Home Office immigration enforcement officers to investigate organised immigration crime. Source: UK Border Agency.
EEA Nationals are being used by sham marriage gangs as marriages to EEA citizens are not subject to the strict Immigration Rules (e.g. minimum £18600) imposed ob British Citizens marrying a non-EU person.
Strangely, although the UK is part of the EEA, its citizens are not recognised by the UKBA as EEA nationals.
Until this anomaly, which discriminates against British people and the new Immigration Rules are splitting families apart, is cleared up sham marriage gangs will use the ‘EEA’ loophole to get migrants into the UK by the back door.
British citizens or residents should have the same rights as other EU and EEA nationals when marrying a non-EU citizen and should be able to live with their husband, wife or bride or civil partner in the UK without the additional restrictions applied to them by their own government.
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