A gang of five fraudsters, including an Indian-origin accountant, who ran a fake Bangladeshi visa scam and falsely claimed nearly 13 million pounds in tax repayments have been sentenced to a total of 31 years in jail by a UK court.
Jalpa Trivedi, 41, was found guilty for facilitating the accounting side of the fraud and was jailed for three years.
London-based Bangladeshi origin law student Abul Kalam Muhammad Rezaul Karim was the ringleader in the organised crime group.
The 42-year-old man set up 79 bogus companies and created fake documentation used by Bangladeshi nationals in fraudulent visa applications, Southwark Crown Court in London was told during a trial that ended last week.
The fraudsters also used the companies to fraudulently reclaim tax repayments from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over a six-year period, with 172,000 pounds being paid out and potentially could have amounted to as much as 13-million pounds if the fraud had not been undetected.
An investigation into their wrongdoing was the "longest ever undertaken" by the UK's Immigration Enforcement's Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team.
Judge Martin Griffith said: "The purpose was to fool the Home Office into granting visas and it worked. Eighteen people were granted visas based on false figures. Of those, three were allowed to become naturalised British citizens, and two given indefinite leave to remain."
All five fraudsters were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud by making false applications under the Tier-1 visa category between December 31, 2008 and February 27, 2013.
Karim was sentenced to ten-and-a-half years, his brother-in-law Enamul Karim, 34, was sentenced to nine years and four months and Kazi Borkot Ullah, 39, was sentenced to five years and 10 months behind bars.
All three were absent in court after absconding in July and arrest warrants have been issued for their arrest.
Ullah's lawyer told the court he had "no idea where he is, in this country, Bangladesh or anywhere else".
Mohammed Tamij Uddin, 47, was jailed for two years and six months respectively.
Prosecutor Julian Christopher told the court their offending was on an "industrial scale".
As part of the immigration scam, the five defendants charged some clients on temporary visas wanting to remain in the UK a minimum of 700 pounds in cash for their fraudulent immigration services.
The fraud was uncovered in 2011 when the UK Home Office identified a suspicious pattern in a series of points-based applications for Tier 1 general and entrepreneur visas.
Both routes had a significant financial requirement, with applicants earning points based either on previous earnings or by demonstrating they had access to a minimum of 50,000 pounds to invest in UK business.
The gang claimed their clients were employees as part of their tax and immigration fraud – creating fake payslips and providing false information on hundreds of applications to ensure eligibility for a Tier 1 visa.
They transferred money into clients' bank accounts to make them appear well-paid employees. The money was paid back to the fraudsters the following month and, between 2008 and 2013, millions were laundered through the bank accounts as a result.