Tyneside couples sentenced for fake ‘partner-swapping’ marriages

Pakistani couple Muhammad Hanif and Huma Aslam, who had student visas to be in the UK, worked with Czech couple Michal Mankos and Katerina Gerychova in order to swap partners and enter sham marriages.

Their plan was to obtain permission to remain in the UK indefinitely.

Mr Hanif and Ms Gerychova travelled to Gretna from Tyneside last July, in order to get married, while Ms Aslam and Mr Mankos were to marry at Newcastle Civic Centre.

However, both ‘couples’ were caught by the Home Office and were prosecuted at Newcastle Crown Court, along with their co-conspirators.

All eight members of the group behind the sham marriages were found guilty of actively seeking to breach immigration law.

The couples were reportedly introduced by sham marriage coordinators Waseem Shah and Ivan Holub; however, special investigators from the Home Office were aware of the plan and arrested both fake couples, along with Mr Shah and Mr Holub, immediately before the wedding ceremonies were set to take place.

Two other individuals – Vladislava Mankosova and Simon Poliak – also admitted to being accomplices.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said: “The criminal gangs who try to cheat their way around our immigration laws will not escape justice, as this case demonstrates.

“Last year, our investigators intervened in more than 2,900 suspected sham marriages.”

Craig Hobbs, a Home Office investigator linked with the case, said: “This was a brazen attempt to trample over the marriage and immigration laws.

“Hanif and Aslam and Mankos and Gerychova were in genuine relationships together, but thought nothing of fraudulently marrying people who were essentially complete strangers.”