A GANG who were part of a “sophisticated” immigration scam to trick the Home Office into allowing married partners to enter the United Kingdom were jailed for more than 28 years.

Denaught Sharma, 56, of Ruskin Avenue, Rogerstone, Newport, who ran an accountancy service, was “at the heart of the offending”, creating false documentation, including wage slips and P60s, in support of immigration applications to enter or stay in the UK.

The owner of companies called ACS Limited and Storm 90 PWR Ltd, the defendant, who was not a qualified accountant, was jailed for seven years and seven months at Cardiff Crown Court by Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke.

His “go-betweens and assistants”, Pirun Sheikh, 42, of Fairwater Grove West, Cardiff, and Abdul Shifar, 43, of Cedar Close, Merthyr Tydfil, were jailed for four years and nine months and four years respectively.

Prosecutor Carl Harrison said the “illusion of a salaries” were made by Sharma by the creation of “ghost employees” working in fictitious jobs.

Although fabricated they included the payment of income tax and National Insurance and were made to support sponsors who were trying to get their spouses into the country because they did not meet the financial requirement of earning at least £18,600 per annum to comply with immigration regulations.

The sponsors trying to get spouses into the country were UK residents Sarah Brindle, 25, of Cardiff Road, Newport, Zakiyya Begum, 26, of Ebenezer Terrace, Newport, Jaqdeep Singh, 31, formerly of Parc Prison, near Bridgend, Suleza Begum, 46, of Glenroy Street, Roath, Cardiff, Mohammad Uddin, 55, of Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff and Abdul Miquith, 51, both of Fairwater Grove West, Cardiff.

The court heard that Brindle’s husband, McDonald's manager Sandeep Kumar, 31, also of Cardiff Road, Newport, was also involved in the fraud and has fled the country, believed to be in his native India. Extradition proceedings are under way.

Brindle and Kumar were both jailed for two years, Uddin for 15 months, Zakiyya Begum for 19 months, Suleza Begum for 21 months, Singh for 21 months and Miquith for 22 months.

All defendants apart from Sharma were charged with offences of making a false representation under the Immigration Act.

Sharma admitted six counts of obtaining leave to remain in the UK by deception under the same act.

Seven defendants pleaded guilty. Brindle, Kumar and Shifar had denied their charges but were convicted by a jury after a trial.

The court heard how Sharma had five previous convictions for 16 offences including affray, possession of drug and a food hygiene offence.

Singh had five previous convictions for nine offences and had served time in prison for the production of cannabis with intent to supply and dishonestly using electricity.

Sharma, representing himself, said in mitigation: “I am deeply sorry for what I have done. I stepped over the mark.”

He said he had been motivated by “humanitarian” factors and had not benefitted financially.

Sharma added: “I don’t want to go to jail.”

Ed Mitchard, for Uddin, said his client fully admitted his wrongdoing and the restaurant worker was the sole breadwinner for his family.

Kevin Seal, for Brindle, said she was of previous clean character and had been left by her husband.

It was heard in mitigation for Kumar that he came to the UK from India and became a manager at McDonald’s after studying achieving a masters degree in business.

The court heard Zakiyya Begum was “terrified of prison” and Shifar provided for his family.

Khadim Al-Hassan for Suleza Begum said she was “genuinely remorseful”

Karl Williams, for Singh, said he had wanted to bring his Thai wife to the UK.

Roderick Johnson QC, for Sheik, a restaurant manager, said: “He has brought upon himself complete ruin. He is a broken man.”

It was heard in mitigation for Miquith that he “has brought shame upon his family, both here and in Bangladesh”.

Speaking outside the court after sentencing, Assistant director Nick Jupp, from Immigration Enforcement CFI, said: “It is clear that a lot of planning and organisation went into running this organised criminal enterprise.

“Sharma, Sheikh and Shifar were the face of this outfit and cynically forged documents and invented fake employers for financial gain.

“By bringing these criminals to justice we have stopped a concerted and systematic assault on the UK’s immigration system. We will not hesitate to prosecute anyone involved in this type of criminality.”

Detective Constable Wayne Alexander, of Gwent Police, said: “We work closely with law enforcement partners at the Home Office to tackle organised crime and welcome the sentences handed down by the court.

“This type of criminal behaviour will not be tolerated in Gwent and we will continue to take robust action to identify offenders and bring them to justice.”