A gang, including of a law firm, made £20million in Britain’s biggest sham marriage racket which let up to 2,000 illegal immigrants stay in the country, the Mail reports.
Solicitor Tevfick Souleiman, 39, and three colleagues flew women in from eastern European countries within the EU to marry non-EU citizens.
Couples usually met on the day of the wedding and even needed an interpreter to translate their marriage vows. Some of the grooms were Albanian career criminals suspected of murder, drugs trafficking and money laundering.
The crooks would pay the law firm around £14,000 to arrange marriages, would use fake identity documents to evade police at home.
Souleiman and his colleagues Cenk Guclu, 41, Furrah Kosimov, 29 and Zafer Altinbas, 38, made up ‘love stories’ to fool officials.
This week a source told the Mail the scam allowed ‘dangerous criminals to operate’ in Britain. ‘We believe this to be the largest marriage fraud ever committed in the UK,’ the source said.
The racket was run between January 2004 and February 2012. Several brides were flown in each day and taken to registry offices across the country. They were paid off and told never to contact the ‘husbands’ again.
At the Old Bailey yesterday Souleiman and Guclu were found guilty of receiving proceeds of crime and Kosimov guilty of money laundering.
Souleiman claimed he had no knowledge of the scam, while immigration adviser Cenk Guclu, 41, tried to blame workmate Furrah Kosimov, 29, but was also found guilty.
Kosimov, who went on the run before the case got underway, was convicted in his absence. Altinbas had earlier pleaded guilty to his role in the illegal plan.
All three were found guilty of conspiracy to breach immigration law.
As the verdicts were announced a woman sobbed so loudly in the public gallery that Judge John Bevan QC had her removed from the court.
Soulemain blew kisses to supporters from the dock as he was found guilty.
The gang ran their empire from the offices of Souleiman’s Souleiman GA law firm in north Londo.
At one point they were flying in several brides a day on budget airlines including Ryanair and Aero Lithuania.
The women were housed in an east London tower block before being taken to registry offices across the country.
Once married, their non-EU husbands would have the right to live in the UK under EEA regulations and claim benefits because of their new status – and would usually be allowed to remain in the country if they separated.
‘That is the point of a sham marriage,’ said prosecutor Nicholas Mather.
‘That’s why it is a business, because people want to come and live and work in this country.
‘Normally if one was coming from a non-EU country there would be complicated and difficult steps one would have to go through in order to be able to live and work in this country.
‘Generally, people can’t do that. We don’t have open borders in this country, except so far as EU countries are concerned.
‘So in many cases these people who engage in sham marriages would have no chance at all of passing through the immigration system, either because they don’t have the right skills or the right income.’
Forged affidavits containing details of the couples’ supposed courtships were also included.
In one, Albanian Alban Spaho described how he met his Bulgarian bride-to-be Petya Zlatanska while on a day out with friends in 2008.
The affidavit said: ‘We went to a cafe where our friends left us alone to get on with it.
‘Petya was a bit shy but I eventually persuaded her to let me take her out.
‘We didn’t go to any of the usual Bulgarian or Albanian places in north London but instead went to a really nice place in the West End.
‘After three months I realised I wanted to be with her all the time and asked her to marry me.’
Another client recalled how he met his bride in a nightclub and proposed after a romantic Valentine’s Day meal.
The were scripted by the lawyers, with some couples only coming face to face at the registry office on the day they were married.
The racket was busted when suspicions were raised about the number of couples marrying at Cambridge Registry Office, despite having no links to the city.
Police raided Souleiman GA’s offices and a lock-up rented by Kosimov, which contained thousands of files about the couplings.
They had so many clients they ran out of bogus addresses and listed several couples as living in the same home.
Many applicants also claimed to work at a takeaway store called Kebab Town.
The enterprise proved lucrative, with bank records showing thousands of pounds being paid into personal accounts belonging to Guclu and Altinbas.
Souleiman studied immigration law since the age of 15 and specialised in the Ankara Agreement, which allows Turkish citizens limited rights to live and work in the UK.
He was raking in a salary of nearly £50,000 after tax from legitimate work, the vast majority of which involved clients of Turkish origin.
The gang will be sentenced on Monday. Source: Daily Mail.
EEA regulations would have also allowed the men to sponsor extended family members, including parents, brothers and sisters to the UK.
If you are a visa overstayer, have been arrested and detained, or need any immigration advic,e or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email:
GUYS, DO YOU HAVE PROBLEMS DATING WOMEN?
Many men find it difficult to find love in their backyard, let alone another country.
Click Here! and discover how you can get a date with the girl of your dreams!