Nine people convicted of immigration scam - Bedfordshire

29/08/2012

A Luton business man who used one of his restaurants as a cover for an immigration scam has been convicted today, Wednesday, 29 August 2012.

Gyash Uddin, 39, of Ivy Road, sponsored visa applications for family members from Bangladesh to come to the UK where he then employed them at his restaurant Moja, in Mill Road, Leighton Buzzard.

Once in the country, EU nationals were paid to embark on fake marriages or civil partnerships with the Bangladeshis, who hoped the bogus relationships would help them gain long-term residency in the UK and the associated right to work and access benefits that comes with it.

Most of the EU nationals were also employed by Uddin at Moja.

Baljit Ubhey OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This was a brazen and cynical attempt to thwart the immigration law of the United Kingdom through marriages to EU nationals living and working in the UK.

"Gyash Uddin sponsored people entering the UK, or otherwise facilitated their illegal entry, and thereafter arranged their sham weddings to his EU employees, purely to assist the non-EU citizens in their bid to gain UK residency. He was prepared to help them do this by completely disregarding those aspects of the law, which exist to ensure that marriages are properly conducted and entered into for the right reasons.

"Working closely with officers from the UK Border Agency we have been able to present a compelling case against the defendants detailing their abuse of marriage law, and immigration law.  All nine defendants have been brought before the courts, where six pleaded guilty to the offences and three have been convicted by a jury.

"This case sends out a clear message that the CPS, the UK Border Agency and the police take these offences very seriously and anyone involved in arranging or participating in lawless marriages of convenience like this can expect to be prosecuted robustly.  We will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure that persons involved in this kind of criminality are brought to justice."

Andy Radcliffe, from the UK Border Agency, said: "Uddin took advantage of his position as a restaurateur to sponsor people to enter the UK, knowing full well that they never planned to go home.

"At every turn, our investigators found his fingerprints all over the case, with the evidence pinpointing him as the main player. He acted as an interpreter at some of the weddings and money went to the EU nationals direct from his account. He also staged a reception for one of the weddings at Moja, the faade of a happy marriage undermined when both the bride and groom went back to work in the kitchens just half an hour into the celebration.

"By bringing Uddin and his accomplices to justice, we have destroyed their criminal business and shown just how seriously we take abuse of the immigration system."

Uddin was convicted of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of the UK's immigration laws and fraud offences after a three week trial at Luton Crown Court.

He was one of three people in the dock, all of whom had denied the charges against them.

Bangladeshi nationals Mohammed Razul Miah, 35, of Mill Road, Leighton Buzzard, and Mohammed Dolon Miah, 35, of Spencer Road, Luton, were also convicted of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of the UK's immigration laws.

Six Luton residents had pleaded guilty to the same charges of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of the UK's immigration laws at earlier hearings.

They were Polish nationals Mariusz Rohde, 28, of Hitchin Road; Dorota Wysocka, 45, of Studley Road; Katarzyna Potrykus, 40, of Cowper Road; Aneta Szczepanik, 35, of Kingsland Road; and Kamila Drozdowska, 28, of Bute Street - and British man Tera Miah, 58, of Hitchin Road. The six had entered into bogus relationships with Bangladeshi nationals.

The offences were committed between 2005 and 2011.

The UK Border Agency investigation was launched after registrars expressed concern about the wedding of Wysocka and Razul Miah, who were married on 19 February at Leighton Buzzard Register Office. There was a clear language barrier between the bride and groom.

Further checks revealed a wider network that had either participated in, or had planned to participate in, sham ceremonies. Arrests were carried out between May and October last year.

When Wysocka was arrested on 17 May last year at a flat in Studley Road she was found in bed with Rohde. Subsequent checks revealed that in 2010 Rohde had agreed to participate in a sham civil partnership with a Bangladeshi man, although the ceremony never went ahead.

Andy Radcliffe continued: "These were shameless attempts to abuse the immigration system. The EU nationals' only motivation was money, but they will now pay a high price for their greed."

Uddin, Dolon Miah and Razul Miah have been remanded in custody and the others have been bailed ahead of sentencing, a date for which has yet to be fixed (estimated to be 26 September 2012 at Luton Crown Court).

A marriage certificate alone does not give foreign nationals the right to live and work in the UK. Their relationship has to be genuine. If it is not, they face prosecution or deportation.

The operation involved seconded police officers working together with warranted UK Border Agency officers.

Nationally, the UK Border Agency now has specialist crime teams consisting of over 700 investigators who are a mixture of immigration officers, police officers and customs officers working together to protect our borders and tackle serious and organised immigration crime.

The suspects were all charged on the advice of the Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service.

Anyone who has information about suspected immigration crime can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org where anonymity can be assured.