World

Indian-origin couple arrested; charged with visa scam in Australia

An Indian-origin couple has been arrested and charged with a visa scam in which clients paid for fake marriages to Australian women to enter the country.

The migration agent and his wedding celebrant wife — Chetan Mohanlal Mashru and Divya Krishne Gowda — were arrested two days ago at their Oxley home in Brisbane’s southwest by Australian Federal Police.

Mumbai-born Mashru and his Australia-born wife Gowda were on Wednesday produced before the Brisbane Magistrates Court which granted them conditional bail.

Mashru and his wife, whose alleged racket was exposed by a Courier-Mail probe in April last year, face up to 10 years in jail and also 170,000 dollars each in fines if convicted.

During the hearing, the court heard that over 30 men and women whose marriages were allegedly arranged by the couple were among the prosecution’s witnesses.

Opposing the bail applications, Commonwealth Prosecutor Aimee Aisthorpe said the accused ran an “organised and ongoing operation” from March 2011 to March 2012 and they charged between USD 10,000 and USD 20,000 for each marriage.

Bank statements and marriage certificates were part of the evidence against the couple, the court heard.

“The defendant (Gawda) profited significantly from the offences...,” she said, adding “It’s difficult to comprehend a more serious offence of this type.”

The court heard that the couple had no ties to the community and their property portfolio has been retained by the police.

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Printable version | Feb 16, 2020 11:57:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/indianorigin-couple-arrested-charged-with-visa-scam-in-australia/article5684882.ece

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