London, April 19: An India-born man was sentenced to nearly four-and-a-half years in jail by a British court for running a fake marriage racket in the country, media reported.
Harpal Singh, 51, along with three other defendants, admitted to arranging sham marriages across Britain before the Cardiff Crown Court in Wales, the Daily Record reported Friday.
Harpal Singh, who was arrested last year for his own fraud marriage in Cardiff, was sentenced to four years and 20 weeks in jail and also recommended for deportation.
He charged 5,000 pounds (around $8,392) for facilitating sham marriages between Czech women and Asian students, mainly from India, Pakistan and Nepal.
These men were mostly those whose visas were about to expire or had already expired.
Harpal Singh was caught trying to marry fraudulently at Cardiff Registry Office in May last year, after registry officials did not believe the validity of his divorce documents.
London-based Harpal Singh came to Britain in 2006 on a six-month visa with his wife and three children.
He applied for immigration twice but failed to get approval.
A bag of identity cards and “marriage packs” for other bogus weddings was recovered from his possession.
Romana Nistrova, 23, from Birmingham in England’s West Midlands, who agreed to enter into a sham marriage, was given a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to do community work, the report said.
Haider Ali and Awais Ahmed, both 23, from England’s Surrey and London, who had paid to go through sham marriages, were jailed for 12 months but freed because of time spent in remand.
The prosecution contended that Harpal Singh would arrange marriages for his clients to Czech women who had European Union (EU) residency and could confer this to any husband.
The judge said such actions are an attack on the proper system of immigration control and also the institution of marriage.
“You, Singh, planned to make money by exploiting people’s desires to remain in the country and preying on women’s financial hardship” he said.
“Ali and Ahmad intended to avoid immigration controls to remain in the UK. It is a shameful thing that you did – a truly shameful thing,” the judge added.