A former UK based barrister was jailed this week for 8.5 years for his role in a massive immigration scam involving a private college that netted millions of pounds, the UK Border Agency revealed.
36-year-old Syed Ahmed of Havelock Terrace, Sunderland was 1 of 5 people involved in running a bogus college and corrupt immigration advisory firm in London. The gang were all arrested after an investigation by the agency’s London immigration crime team.
Ahmed was found guilty of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration following a 3 week trial at Southwark Crown Court. He was cleared of money laundering charges.
The other 4 members of the conspiracy, Ahmed’s Chinese wife Junjie Kao, aged 30, Wie Xing, aged 30, also Chinese, and Bangladeshi nationals Khaled Mahmud aged 35 and Tareq Mahmud aged 35 were previously jailed for a total of 25 years for conspiring to assist unlawful immigration at Croydon Crown Court in January 2010. Kao and Xing also pleaded guilty to money laundering offences.
At the heart of the gang’s conspiracy was Thames College London, which purported to offer genuine courses of education from premises in Whitechapel, but in fact offered none. It was run day-to-day by Khaled and Tareq Mahmud, but Ahmed was listed as a lecturer in law.
The gang would provide fake documents and certificates through the college, which were then used to support visa applications to the Home Office for their ‘clients’.
Those applications were processed by a legal company called Virgil Legal Services Ltd, for which Ahmed was the accredited legal adviser. The firm, based on Shaftesbury Avenue, claimed to provide advice to students from China and the Far East who wanted to apply for or extend visas. It advertised its’ services in Chinese newspapers.
The whole operation netted them millions. £2.65 million pounds in cash was discovered by border officers stuffed into boxes and suitcases underneath a bed in the flat Ahmed shared with Kao and Xing in Lower Road, Rotherhithe, south east London.
Hugh Ind, regional director, London and South East, UK Border Agency said:
‘As this case shows, illegal immigration can be big business.
‘This investigation and conviction demonstrates our determination to tackle those who commit organised immigration crime and bring the perpetrators to justice.
‘We will continue to work with the police and other law enforcement partners to identify criminal activity and stamp out any abuses of the system.’
Detective Superintendent Chris Foster, head of the London immigration crime teams, UK Border Agency said:
‘The UK Border Agency and police continue to work in partnership to identify, dismantle and disrupt criminal networks who are involved in or benefiting from immigration crime.
‘This was an extremely complex investigation that involved many thousands of pages of documentary evidence seized from a bogus college and a corrupt law firm.
‘The amount of cash seized from here highlights the attraction that immigration crime has for criminal gangs. A financial asset stripping investigation is ongoing.’
The London immigration crime team is a specialist unit of police officers seconded from the Metropolitan Police working alongside warranted UK Border Agency officers to investigate organised immigration crime.
Anyone with information about immigration crime can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit the Crimestoppers website. Source: UK Border Agency.
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