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Solicitor masterminded “UK’s largest visa scam”

Added: (Wed Jun 03 2009)

Pressbox (Press Release) - Three immigration advisers were sentenced today at Isleworth Crown Court for offences of submitting nearly 1000 fraudulent visa applications to the Home Office through their immigration advice agency, Univisas. The prosecutor described this as the UK’s largest visa scam.

Ringleader Jatinder Sharma, 44, had previously pleaded guilty to fraud and immigration offences, and Neelam Sharma, 38, and Rakhi Shahi, 31, were convicted following a 4 week trial.

Both Neelam Sharma and Rakhi Shahi were married to Mr Sharma. Charles Worthington, Rakhi Shahi’s solicitor, said “Rakhi met Mr Sharma when she was studying at Delhi University. Her father had recently died and she turned to and trusted Mr Sharma as a substitute father figure, a man 13 years her senior. She fell completely under his influence. He persuaded her to marry him, in 2003, and to move to the UK in 2004. He then was able to enter the UK as her dependant. Rakhi did not discover that he was already married to Neelam Sharma until he brought Neelam and their two children to the UK in 2005 and moved them into the family home. Rakhi was utterly humiliated but could not tell her family what had happened, or return to India, because of the deep shame of her bigamous marriage.

Mr Sharma, an Indian and UK qualified solicitor, set up Univisas in 2006, using his extensive experience of UK immigration law. He used Rakhi to front the business in order to hide his own involvement from his then employer, workpermit.com, and from the authorities. He registered her as the sole Home Office authorised signatory for visa applications. However, all the applications were prepared by Jatinder Sharma, or by others under his supervision. Rakhi was then required to sign the completed applications under threat of violence from Mr Sharma.

Univisas operated for less than two years. In March 2008, Mr Sharma registered others as authorised signatories and the main signature was removed from Rakhi. The screen provided to Mr Sharma by Rakhi in respect of his activities was no longer required.

On 30/03/08 Univisas was registered as a limited company giving equal shares to others in the business. The usefulness of Rakhi to Mr Sharma had been exhausted.

Rakhi Shahi is devasted by the outcome of the trial and has vowed to appeal this verdict and to clear her name."

Wednesday 03 June 2009.

For further information please contact Charles Worthington, Lansbury Worthington Solicitors, 5 King Street Cloisters, Clifton Walk, Hammersmith, London, W6 0GY, tel: 020 8563 9797, email: cw@lansbury-worthington.co.uk.

Submitted by:Charles Worthington
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