A man and a woman convicted of swindling more than $100,000 from desperate Indian men through a wedding visa scam have been sentenced to jail.
Chetan Mashru, a former migration officer, and celebrant Divya Gowda arranged the bogus marriages of 16 Indian men to young Australian brides in the “one-stop shop” set up at their Oxley townhouse in 2011.
Mashru was sentenced to a minimum of two years and three months of jail time while Gowda will spend 18 months in prison before being released on a three-year good behaviour bond.
Of these, 34 relate to Mashru helping grooms complete dishonest immigration applications.
Most of the couples whose sham weddings he helped arrange married at their first meeting.
The ceremonies involved only a signing of documents and an exchange of birth certificates and money.
Many lies were told to secure the spousal visas but during the trial this month, the jury heard not all the details provided were untrue.
In a document signed to help the ruse, bride-turned-witness Leilani Rose May claimed that after she met her husband at a friend’s birthday party she was learning Punjabi and how to make the curries she loved, and she had a desire to travel before settling down to start a family.
They were all lies except for one element.
“I love curries,” she told the court.
The grooms were usually charged between $9000 and $10,000, with Mashru keeping half.
One man, however, paid Mashru $25,000.
Many of the men had modest financial circumstances and borrowed from family and friends in India to pay the hefty fees.
“Both of you abused your positions within the community,” Judge Martin said.
Neither had shown remorse, he found, telling the court Mashru was the brains behind the scam and while Gowda’s involvement was less, it was critical to their enterprise.
During a hearing last week, Mashru claimed imprisonment would cause him undue hardship as he was a vegan.
But Judge Martin on Wednesday said his requirements would be accommodated.
Mashru was sentenced to a maximum four-and-a-half years in jail.
Neither reacted as they learnt their punishments.
Source: 9 News