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Illegal immigrants, fake marriages rise

Latest documents have revealed that nearly 15,000 people take part in fake marriages every year, reports Nabanita Sircar.
PTI | By Nabanita Sircar, London
PUBLISHED ON APR 14, 2004 02:10 PM IST

The racket of illegal immigrants having false marriages to remain in the UK is of major concern to authorities. Latest documents have revealed an estimated 15,000 people a year take part in fake marriages - 10 times more than the official figure.

One man in the Midlands, known as only Mr Singh claims he has fooled registrars and arranged 30 fake wedding over 10 years. Illegal immigrants are offered a British bride for between £10,000 and £15,000. The bride is paid between £3,000 to £8,000, while the rest of the amount goes to Singh, who also allegedly knows of about another 100 such false marriages which have been conducted in India and registry offices across the West Midlands.

Singh of Birmingham said: "It is easy money. The Government does not have a clue what is going on. I don't think I am jeopardising myself or business by speaking out as officials are so hopeless."

He allegedly said in the interview that he has recruited both British-born Asian men and women who are willing to marry foreigners for up to £15,000. He also claims that of the 30 marriages he has arranged one woman with a British passport has now been married eight times.

Claiming that such practices are prevalent in all major cities in the UK, Singh also said: "There is still a lot of demand from people in India who want to come over here. So it's not like we have a shortage of clients or money."

"They see Britain as the land of opportunity and believe the streets are paved with gold. If I could get enough British girls, I could arrange a wedding a day for the next six months. At the moment I only have one girl who is ready to go."

Singh allegedly relies for his business on family contacts in Punjab to find clients and seeks out British girls through his network of UK contacts. He adds that most of the fake marriages he arranges are held in India. He said: "We usually take the girl over to India and holds the wedding there."

"There are far fewer questions asked and you can do practically anything in India if you are prepared to pay a few backhanders. We then take a video and the fake paperwork to the High Commission and three to six months later the man is living over here."

"Five years later the 'bride' can apply for an official divorce and he can continue living over here."

About the marriages he conducts in the UK he said he is approached by illegal immigrants who have already come into the UK. "Over here it is all about obtaining false paperwork for the immigrant such as birth certificates which are not hard to get hold of. Usually the bride and groom arrive at the ceremony separately and leave separately. They don't even have a kiss after the ceremony," he said.

He agrees that cases, where the couple does not speak the same language, can be a bit sticky. "We normally only recruit Asian men and women, because the one time we used a white woman she was grilled by immigration."

"We are now also getting a demand for British men to go to India to marry because there are so many single women who want a passage over here," he told the Sunday Mercury.

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