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NRI - Jatinder Sharma, Neelam Sharma and Rakhi Shahi - jailed for a total of 19 years


Three NRIs Jailed For UK's Biggest Visa Scam


London, June 04, 2009
Sudesh Sharma

The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) is an independent, non-departmental public body set up under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, Suzanne McCarthy, The Immigration Services Commissioner said:

Three people have today been jailed for a total of 19 years following the largest ever immigration crime investigation by the UK Border Agency and police.

Jatinder Sharma, 44, and two women who both claimed to be his wives Neelam Sharma, 38, and Rakhi Shahi, 31, ran a company called Univisas, which specialised in providing would-be immigrants with counterfeit qualifications and documents to aid immigration applications in exchange for cash.

They were arrested in May 2008 by a specialist team of immigration officers and seconded Metropolitan police and were today found guilty of running what is thought to have been the United Kingdom's largest ever visa scam.

During raids on their home and business premises in Southall, west London, officers seized thousands of counterfeit documents including false university qualifications, academic certificates and payslips. They also discovered hundreds of stamps used in production, and more than £22,000 in cash.

Following a four week trial at Isleworth Crown Court, Rakhi Shahi was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, handling criminal property and immigration offences. Neelam Sharma was found guilty of handling criminal property and sentenced to four years.

Jatinder Sharma had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing - the judge told him he would have to serve seven years behind bars. All have been recommended for deportation after they have served their sentences.

A fourth suspect, Arun Gajawada, had also previously pleaded guilty to offences relating to the scam - he was deported from the United Kingdom back to India in March. Gajawada was a member of staff at the London School of E-Commerce, a bogus college that was involved in supplying false documents to Univisas. It has since been closed down.

UK Border Agency Regional Director, Tony Smith said:
'The tough sentences handed down today demonstrate our determination to tackle those who commit organised immigration crime and bring the perpetrators to justice.

'This was one of the largest joint investigations ever undertaken by the UK Border Agency and police. We believe we have cracked a major international conspiracy to facilitate the entry of illegal immigrants into the United Kingdom. Those behind it showed total disregard for the law, and their motives were purely financial.

'We will continue to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the police and other enforcement partners to identify criminal activity and stamp out any abuses of the system.'

The UK Border Agency's Regional Head of Police Teams, Detective Superintendent Chris Foster said:
'This was a sophisticated, organised and lucrative international criminal enterprise. There is no doubt that if they'd been allowed to continue, this gang would have helped hundreds more people come into the country illegally.

'It was an incredibly complex investigation, involving dozens of officers, financial investigators and fraud and forgery experts from both the police and UK Border Agency.

'I pay tribute to the painstaking work of everyone involved in stopping this conspiracy in its tracks.'
Around £420,000 worth of assets belonging to the gang remain frozen.

Jatinder Sharma, who described himself as 'Son of a Lion' during a secretly filmed meeting, offered his clients a money-back guarantee that he could cheat the system. He and Rakhi were described as the 'public face' of the business, while Neelam Sharma worked in the 'engine room', producing falsified applications.

Univisas had clients from around the globe. Investigators discovered company records of nationals from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.




More than 90,000 counterfeit documents were produced at a property in west London, allowing hundreds of people to cheat UK border controls

Jatinder Kumar Sharma, 44, her husband, admitted his part in the scam in March, was jailed for seven years.

Rakhi Shahi, 31, was found guilty of masterminding the single biggest visa scam ever seen in Britain, was jailed for eight years

Neelam Sharma, 38, also thought to be Sharma's wife, was found guilty of handling some of the cash in the scam, was jailed for four years,