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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Three Nigerians jail in UK over college visa scam

Three Nigerians were yesterday jailed for a total of (Eighteen) 18-and-a-half years for setting up a fake educational institution, called Bogus Colleges, to help illegal immigrants remain in the United Kingdom. The UK Border Agency’s London Immigration Crime Team, told the prosecution that its investigations revealed the dirty deals of the three, which include a husband and wife, Tiamiyu and Christiana Bello, aged 75 and 67 respectively, and a 39-year-old solicitor, Adeyinka Adeniran.

The couple were arrested following a raid on a property on New Cross Road in South London in July 2007, while Mr. Adeniran was later arrested following a search of his office on Old Kent Road. The sentence yesterday followed an 11-week trial at Croydon Crown Court, where the Bellos were found guilty of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration and conspiracy to possess articles for use in fraud. They were both sentenced to five years in prison each. Mr. Adeniran was also found guilty of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration, which the judge described as a “disgrace to his profession.” He was sentenced to eight and a half years behind bars.

Revelations

The UK Border’s Agency said its raid on Mr. And Mrs. Bello’s office, which was registered to the address of “Academic College of Education” and the “Academic College of Training and Recruitment”, institutions for which the Bellos were the principals, led to the seizures of documents.

“During a search, a large number of documents were seized, including letters purporting to be from the Academic College of Education and counterfeit qualification certificates. Many of the files seized from that address contained documentation from the Bellos’ college. Officers soon discovered that the building was a collection of bedsits and there was no evidence of lessons being taught there,” the agency said.

UK officers told the court that though the scam had been on for many years, the entirety of the business structure totally, “involved the supply of fake qualification documents which were then used to support visa applications to the Home Office. Many applicants were then represented by Mr. Adeniran through his legal practice.”

Chris Foster, who leads the London Immigration Crime Team for the UK Border Agency, described the structure as “a sophisticated criminal enterprise, which had the explicit aim of helping those who had no right to be in the UK evade immigration controls. As this case shows, illegal immigration can be big business. I hope this sends out a message that we are committed to tackling the criminal groups behind it, putting the ringleaders before the courts, and, ultimately, behind bars.”


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