|Jailed: Lina Kezelyte & Valentina Kezeliene|
They flew in brides from the Baltic state to marry Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Nigerian and Nepalese men in a £315,000 visa plot.
A total of twenty-six bogus marriages were identified in which young Lithuanian women were booked on flights with budget airline Wizz Air and flown to Luton Airport from Vilnius.
Sometimes the marriage ceremony at a London-area registry office would take place the following day, with the bride returning home alone shortly after.
The grooms were often illegal overstayers, who had exhausted every legal means to remain and should have returned to their home countries.
Lina Kezelyte, 32, of Warmwell Avenue, Colindale received four-and-a-half years imprisonment and her mother Valentina Kezeliene, 53, two-and-a-half years.
Beata Jarmolovic, 28, of Park Barn Drive, Guildford was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment, suspended for eighteen months and ordered to complete 200 hours community service.
Ruta Sperskaite, 25, of Vanderville Gardens, East Finchley received two years imprisonment, suspended for two years and was ordered to complete 200 hours community service work.
All four were convicted of conspiring together between February 1, 2012 and August 28, 2014 to assist unlawful immigration by arranging the marriages and assisting the grooms.
|Suspended Sentences: Jarmolovic & Sperskaite|
Renata Semasko, 29, of The Oaks, Aldershot Road, Guildford was convicted of helping launder the criminal proceeds and was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment, suspended for eighteen months and ordered to complete 200 hours community service.
A sixth absent defendant, Mohemmed Jemaldeen, 33, of Turner Road, Edgware, who providing the grooms, received four years for conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
Prosecutor Mr. Jonathan Polnay told Croydon Crown Court that as members of the EU spouses of Lithuanian nationals have the right to permanently live and work in the UK.
“This case is about the subversion of that right for profit, to the detriment of those that play by the rules, by arranging sham marriages to fool the authorities into allowing the grooms to remain in the UK.
“This conspiracy was to help non-EU national men to live and work in the UK via a sham marriage.
“They managed, in some cases, to fool the Home Office and other public bodies the marriages were genuine.”
Even when a visa application was rightly denied, the jury heard appeals to the Home Office were successful, with the grooms being allowed to stay as a legal spouse.
“These six defendants were involved in arranging these marriages, setting them up and running the show.
|Money Launderer: Semasko|
“Many of the grooms were desperate. They had already tried and failed to stay in the UK.”
The bogus brides were paid a fee and shown how to apply for a National Insurance number as soon as they arrived, which proved they were exercising their EU treaty rights.
The jury were told Lina Kezelyte was the “ringleader” who recruited most of the brides and her mother booked flights and helped launder the profits.
“The other defendants assisted in moving around the money and helped out at the weddings themselves,” explained Mr. Polnay.
Ceremonies took place in registry offices from Camberley, Surrey to Enfield, north London.
Investigators discovered that during the period of the conspiracy Lina received £315,376 into her five bank accounts, with £99,496 of it in cash.
She declared to HMRC she was earning an annual salary of £36,000.
“There is cash swilling around, a lot of it.”