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Indian migration agent, wife found guilty over marriage visa scam

Chetan Mashru Source: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Chetan Mashru and Divya Gowda have been found guilty over a fake marriage scam, hooking up Indian men with Australian women.

A registered migration agent and his marriage celebrant wife have been found guilty by a Brisbane District Court Jury after a fortnight-long trial over a fake marriage scam.

Chetan Mashru and Divya Gowda who were accused of organising 16 fake marriages sat emotionless as the jury returned a guilty verdict on Thursday, SBS News reports.

"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 couple faced 66 charges over the one-stop-shop marriage scam between March 2011 and March 2012.

Chetan Divya
Divya Gowda (left) and Chetan Mashru (right)

The court heard the accused had received thousands of dollars for organising the marriages of Indian men with Australian women so that their visas could be extended. 

Many of the brides and grooms from the 16 marriages the couple organised appeared in the court during the trial and testified as witnesses.

Ripan Thind, an Indian man who wanted his visa extended had told the court he paid his Australian wife and Chetan Mashru $35,000-40,000.

The trial heard Pradeep Singh, a taxi driver, met Mashru after his application for a visa extension was rejected and Mashru arranged his marriage with Josie Haig on March 27, 2011.

The court was told Singh promised to pay his Australian wife $30,000 over a period of two years and that he paid $10,000 to Mashru on the day of his wedding who would portray a longstanding relationship between the two.

Another witness had told the court that she married an Indian man to enable him to stay in Australia. She said she was financially struggling and was “desperate”. She told the court she had heard that she could make money through the alleged fake marriage scam. She said the relationship between her and the man she married was not genuine.

Both face up to ten years in prison and were remanded in custody until sentencing tomorrow.

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