Published: 19 February, 2013
MEMBERS of a firm of solicitors firm based in Islington were jailed for a total of 35 years on Monday for organising thousands of sham marriages to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country.
The Old Bailey heard that lawyer Tevfick Souleiman and his three advisors of Souleiman GA Solictiors made millions of pounds from the scam.
They would charge up to £14,000 to provide false tenancy agreements and other documents, and for spouses to fly from eastern Europe in order to marry people from outside the European Union.
Police searches of the premises uncovered 8,000 immigration applications between 2004 and 2011. At least 1,800 men, including members of the Albanian mafia, were “married”.
The four men were arrested in 2010. On Monday Souleiman, 39, who lives in Hatfield, was jailed for 10-and-a-half years for breaching immigration law. Zafer Altinbas, 38, of Bemerton Street, near Caledonian Road, was jailed for six years and nine months after pleading guilty to money laundering.
Cenk Guclu, 41, of Enfield, and Farruh Kosimov, 29, of no fixed abode, were both jailed for nine years for breaching immigration law. Kosimov is being hunted by police after absconding while on court bail.
The sham marriages took place all over the country. The Tribune has, however, heard of at least one case of police stopping a marriage at Islington Town Hall late last year which they believed to be bogus, although this would not have been connected to this case.
Detective Inspector Caroline Barker 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 the HMRC by faking payments to non-existent employees. I would also like to appeal for help in tracing Farruh Kosimov, who is originally from Uzbekistan.”