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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

2 Indian-origin men jailed for Visa scam

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, May 23, 2012
First Published: 13:41 IST(23/5/2012) | Last Updated: 15:56 IST(23/5/2012)

Two men of Indian-origin who are thought to have made more than £800,000 from an immigration scam were jailed on May 21 for a total of 11 years, following an investigation by the UK Border Agency.

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Registered solicitor Srinath Aredla, 39, and Santosh Koletti, 33 who lived in Hounslow, West London, set up three bogus companies, which were fronts to help people remain in the UK illegally.

The companies, Powerstream Employment Ltd, Aspire Employment Solutions Ltd and Synapse Solutions Ltd, listed Koletti as their director. They issued pay-slips and wage payments to their clients, making it appear that they had well-paid jobs.

This documentation was then used to help applicants staying in the UK as highly-skilled migrants. Aredla, the solicitor, prepared the documentation.

The scam was detected when the UK Border Agency noticed that a large number of applications was coming from employees of the same group of companies. They were also being dealt with the same solicitor.

The pair was arrested by officers from the UK Border Agency's West London Criminal and Financial Investigation team at their home in Hounslow in August 2011.

Officers recovered documentation and passports linking the men to visa applications that were in progress. Investigators found a large amount of money had gone through their bank accounts.

Midway through their trial at Isleworth Crown Court, Aredla and Koletti changed pleas and admitted charges of conspiracy to defraud. They were sentenced to six and a half and four and a half years in prison, respectively.

A senior investigating officer from the UK Border Agency, said,

"This was a sophisticated scam which netted the perpetrators a large amount of money - we estimate around £800,000. The fact that Aredla was prepared to abuse his position as a practising solicitor to help others break the law makes his offence even more serious."

"Not only will the pair face deportation after serving their sentences, we have also begun Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings to prevent them from benefiting financially from their crimes," he added.

Twenty-one people who are known to have been clients of Aredla and Koletti have already been removed from the UK.

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