Four plead Guilty to Immigration Offences in Sham Marriage case

17/11/2009

Three men and a woman pleaded guilty today to immigration offences and perjury for their part in a sham marriage scam which allowed Chinese immigrants to stay in the UK illegally.

The case centred on payments which were made to Michael Wright in exchange for marrying a Chinese immigrant so she could stay in the UK permanently and for arranging for his sister to enter into a similar marriage of convenience.

At Reading Crown Court today Michael Wright of Swindon, pleaded guilty to two counts of assisting unlawful entry to the UK and two counts of perjury.  He admitted to marrying Li Fan in a sham marriage in 2008 and arranging for Ligang Qiao to marry his sister, who suffers from mental health issues and learning disabilities, in May 2009.

Lin Fan, from Reading, admitted perjury and seeking leave to remain in the UK by deception.  Bing Liu, also from Reading, pleaded guilty to assisting illegal immigration into the UK.  Ligang Qiao, also from Reading, pleaded guilty to perjury.

All four defendants worked together to deceive the authorities to enable those not entitled to stay in the UK to carry on living here.

CPS Senior Crown Prosecutor Becky Owen said, "This is an extremely serious case involving a particularly vulnerable victim.  Michael Wright was well aware of his sisters learning difficulties and exploited these to influence her to enter into the bogus marriage, in return for £8000.  His carefully planned actions have shown that he valued money above the welfare of his sister and the immigration laws of the country.

"He had already received £4000 for his sham marriage in 2008 to Li Fan, who admitted to using the arrangement to enable her to live permanently in the UK.

"The organised nature of the plot and the money that exchanged hands adds to the severity of this case. The CPS has worked closely with Thames Valley Police officers working for the UK Border Agency in building a prosecution that has resulted in the defendants entering guilty pleas today.

"We will be applying to the Court to recover the money received by Wright to send out a strong message that, those who try to abuse the immigration system for financial gain, will not succeed."