Members of a corrupt firm of solicitors who arranged thousands of sham marriages for illegal immigrants have been sentenced to a total of 35 years and 3 months at the Old Bailey.
Law specialist Tevfick Souleiman, along with advisers Zafer Altinbas, Cenk Guclu and Furrah Kosimov, made millions of pounds for providing false tenancy agreements and other false documents to support the marriage applications. They even went so far as to arrange for hundreds of 'spouses' to be flown from Europe to 'marry' people from outside the EU.
Their corrupt set up was uncovered by detectives from the MPS Central Task Force, working with UK Borders Agency and HM Revenue and Customs, who launched the intelligence led investigation in 2009.
Searches conducted at the business premises of Souleiman GA Solicitors in North London resulted in the seizure of hundreds of false documents and marriage applications.
Detectives found that the firm conducted up to 8,000 immigration applications between 2004 and 2011, with up to £14,000 being charged for each marriage. The firm also recorded payments to non-existent 'ghost' employees in an effort to reduce the tax liability.
In July 2010 the four men were arrested and charged with a range of offences and were sentenced on 18th February 2013.
Tevfick Souleiman, 39, of Georges Wood Road, Brookmans Park, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, was sentenced to 10 years and six months imprisonment after being found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK Immigration Law, and money laundering.
Zafer Altinbas, 38, of Bemerton Street N1, was sentenced to six years and nine months after pleading guilty to money laundering.
Cenk Guclu, 41, of Links Side, Enfield, was sentenced to nine years after being found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK Immigration Law, and money laundering.
Farruh Kosimov, 29, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to nine years after being found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK Immigration Law, and money laundering.
Detectives are appealing for any information on the whereabouts of Kosimov, who absconded whilst on court bail. He is originally from Uzbekistan.
Detective Superintendent Caroline Barker, from the MPS Central Task Force, said: "This firm was corrupt to the core; the individuals involved knowingly and fraudulently sought to get rich by setting up thousands of sham marriages so that people could stay in the UK illegally, and then going on to defraud HMRC by faking payments to non-existent employees. A financial investigation is now underway to look at confiscating any assets they have made from their criminality.”
Anyone with information about Farruh Kosimov’s whereabouts is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.