Five people operating a bogus college and corrupt immigration advice firm were sentenced to 33 and a half years total detention, having been found guilty for conspiring to assist unlawful immigration and money-laundering offences.
Following an investigation by the UKBA immigration crime team, Syed Ahmed – a former barrister – was on trial for three weeks, where he was cleared on the money laundering charges but found guilty of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration. He was sentenced to eight and a half years.
Ahmed’s wife – Junjie Kao – was also involved, as well as another Chinese national, Wie Xing. Along with two Bangladeshi nationals – Khaled Mahmud and Tareq Mahmud – were given a total of 25 years by the judge.
Thames College London was nothing but a front, claiming to have sufficient premises to provide the courses they offered, but having none. Khaled Mahmud and Tareq Mahmud were responsible for running the college while Ahmed “worked” as a lecturer.
Operating a corrupt immigration company – Virgil Legal Services Ltd – the conspirators used Thames College London to issue entirely fake visa letters and other fraudulent documents, which were used to secure UK student visas.
The scam paid twice for the conspirators, as they used their own corrupt immigration company – Virgil Legal Services Ltd – to process the visa applications for “students” of Thames College London. Upon serving a warrant, the UKBA team found £2.65 million in cash under a bed in a south-east London flat. Who knows how much more money has already left the college over the lifetime of the scam.
Commenting on the case, Hugh Ind, Director UKBA London and South East, said, “…this case shows, illegal immigration can be big business. This investigation and conviction demonstrates our determination to tackle those who commit organised immigration crime and bring the perpetrators to justice. We will continue to work with the police and other law enforcement partners to identify criminal activity and stamp out any abuses of the system.”
Head of the UKBA crime team, Detective Superintendent Chris Foster, added, “…the UK Border Agency and police continue to work in partnership to identify, dismantle and disrupt criminal networks who are involved in or benefiting from immigration crime. This was an extremely complex investigation that involved many thousands of pages of documentary evidence seized from a bogus college and a corrupt law firm. The amount of cash seized from here highlights the attraction that immigration crime has for criminal gangs. A financial asset stripping investigation is ongoing.”