An alleged marriage scam likened to reality TV show Married at First Sight operated out of a Brisbane house for more than a year, a District Court jury has heard.
Indian couple Divya Krishne Gowda and Chetan Mohanlal Mashru are on trial, accused of organising fake marriages for Indian men to help them get a visa in Australia.
The scam was allegedly operating from March 2011 until March 2012.
Mashru, who worked as a registered migration agent, is facing 50 charges while Gowda, a marriage celebrant, is facing 16 counts of arranging marriages for a visa.
Opening the case on day one of the trial, Commonwealth prosecution barrister Greg Lynham told the court the couple ran a “sham” operation marrying Australian women with Indian men.
The jury heard how a young Indian student Pardeep Singh contacted Mashru in 2010 to try to extend his student visa.
His application was rejected and while in the process of appealing the decision, Mashru allegedly told the young student of another way to get a permanent visa.
“It is what happened next which is what this trial is about,” Mr Lynham told the court.
When Mr Singh arrived at Mashru’s Oxley house, Australian woman Josaphine Haig was also there.
The crown said Mr Singh paid $10,000 to marry Ms Haig in order to get a visa.
Mr Lynham told the court the pair had never seen each other before and the jury could be mistaken for thinking it was a television show similar to Nine Network’s Married at First Sight.
He said the Oxley home was “no chapel of love”.
Over the 12 months, 16 Australian women and 15 Indian men were involved in the alleged scam.
Two sisters and a cousin were among the so-called brides who were paid to be involved.
Fifteen of the brides and six of the grooms are due to give evidence in the trial which is expected to run for two to three weeks.
Online Source: www.abc.net.au