East Ham businessman jailed for smuggling illegal immigrants into UK
19:08 18 March 2013
A restaurant boss who made thousands of pounds by smuggling illegal immigrants into the country was jailed for eight years today.
Shuhel Chowdhury used fake documents and lied to immigration officials to try to help 30 Bangladeshis gain entry into the UK as part of nine “family visit” visa applications.
The 48-year-old charged several thousand pounds for each application.
Chowdhury was arrested by the UK Border Agency’s South London Criminal and Financial Investigation team at his home in Arragon Road, East Ham, in September 2011.
Investigators found forged bank statements and utility bills, which he had used to support the fraudulent applications, and discovered Chowdhury had even lied under oath to the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal when he appealed because the applications were turned down.
His lies resulted in six out of the nine applications being granted, and a UK Border Agency spokesman confirmed officials will review the cases of the individuals involved. Anyone found to be in the country under a visa granted unlawfully will be removed from the UK, he added.
Chowdhury, who owns a Tandoori restaurant in Battersea, was charged with nine counts of assisting unlawful immigration in May last year. A jury convicted him at Croydon Crown Court on January 18, ahead of his sentencing this week.
UK Border Agency official Mark Simpson said: “This was a blatant attempt to flout our immigration rules.
“Chowdhury’s criminality was all the more serious as not only was he trying to assist people to enter the UK illegally by providing false documents, he swore under oath before a judge that these applications were genuine.
“The message to those involved in organised immigration crime is clear. We will catch you and we will not hesitate to take the strongest possible action.
“Our dedicated crime teams will continue to crack down on those who seek to abuse the immigration system.”