Migration agent Chetan Mashru and his marriage celebrant wife Divya Gowda has been jailed for running a marriage visa scam.
A migration agent and his marriage celebrant wife have been jailed over a marriage visa scam in Brisbane after a jury returned a guilty verdict following a fortnight-long trial last week.
Chetan Mashru and Divya Gowda were found guilty of total 66 charges for organising 16 sham marriages, hooking Indian men desperate to stay in Australia, with Australian women between March 2011 and March 2012.
Mashru has been sentenced to maximum four-and-a-half years in jail and his wife Divya will serve 18 months behind bars before being released on a three-year good behaviour bond, AAP reported.
Terming their offences “brazen and persistent”, Brisbane District Court Judge Terry Martin said the couple had carried out the enterprise for financial reward.
"Both of you abused your positions within the community," the Judge said on Wednesday while announcing the sentence.
Judge Martin said Mashru was the brain behind the scam. He said while his wife's involvement was less, it was critical to their enterprise.
During the trial, the court heard some of the men were ready to pay up to $40,000 for the sham marriages to Australian women to secure their stay in the country.
“It was not a small scale affair by any means,” the crown prosecutor said last week.
"There's no courtship, there's no dating, there's no getting to know each other.
"It's simply rock up to the townhouse, sign some forms ... and then the parties go their separate ways, usually with the bride somewhat financially more benefited than what she was when she walked in," the crown prosecutor Greg Lynham told the jury in his closing address on Wednesday.
The scam likened to Nine Network’s Married at First Sight had men hooked with Australian women in the couple’s townhouse in Brisbane. A total of 16 marriages were organised where the men and women signed marriage papers on their first meeting.
Mashru will spend a minimum of two years and three months in jail.