An Indian-origin couple in Australia, accused of running a visa marriage scam, was freed on bail Thursday.
Chetan Mohanlal Mashru, 34, and his partner Divya Krishne Gowda, 33, were arrested two days ago in Brisbane and charged with arranging marriages to fulfil visa requirements to settle in Australia.
More than 30 marriages were allegedly arranged by the couple for people to get citizenship of the country, the Courier Mail reported.
Opposing the bail applications, prosecutor Aimee Aisthorpe told the court that the couple ran an “organised and ongoing operation” from March 2011 to March 2012.
They allegedly charged between $10,000 and $20,000 for each marriage, the report said.
Bank statements and marriage certificates were part of the evidence against the couple.
“The defendant (Gawda) profited significantly from the offences,” Aisthorpe was quoted as saying in the report.
“It’s difficult to comprehend a more serious offence of this type,” she said.
Aisthorpe told the court that the couple fled to India after they were questioned by a journalist in 2012 about their alleged scam.
Magistrate John McGrath, however, granted bail to the couple on several conditions, including reporting to police three times a week, not coming within 300 metres of an international departure point and not contacting the prosecution witnesses.
Gawda was also told to surrender her passport. Police had seized Mashru’s passport when they arrested him Tuesday.
Mashru faces charges of attempting to arrange marriage for visa, fraud to influence visa applications and dishonestly influencing a public official.
Gawda has been charged with attempting to arrange marriages for visa applications.
Indian News in Australia/Published in The Indian Sun