TWO men from Heston netted more than £800,000 from an illegal immigration scam, a court was told.
Registered solicitor Srinath Aredla, 39, and Santosh Koletti, 33, both of Shelley Crescent, set up three bogus companies that acted as fronts to help people remain in the UK illegally.
They issued payslips and wage payments to their clients, making it seem like they had well paid jobs and this was used to support applications to stay in the UK as highly skilled migrants. The applications would be submitted by Aredla who worked as a solicitor.
Their scam was picked up when UK Border Agency caseworkers noticed a large number of applications from employees of the same group of companies were being dealt with by the same solicitor. The pair were 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 pair to visa applications that were in progress. And enquiries revealed that a large amount of money had gone through their bank accounts.
Judge Rosa Dean sentenced the pair to a total of 11 years at Isleworth Crown Court on Monday (May 21).
The pair changed their minds half way through the hearing and admitted to charges of conspiracy to defraud.
Twenty-one illegal immigrants, who are known to have been clients of Aredla and Koletti, have already been deported.
Senior investigating officer Robert Coxhead 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.
“That Aredla was prepared to abuse his position as a practising solicitor to help others break the law makes his offending all the 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.”
Aredla was sentenced to six and a half years behind bars and Koletti to four and a half years in prison.