Immigrants paid for fake results in Australia

Melbourne: Over 25 immigrants, including Indians, are being probed in Australia for allegedly paying bribes to obtain dodgy marks in English-language exams in a bid to get visa or permanent residency, media reports have said.

The state`s Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) is investigating allegations that a staff member at Curtin University was bribed to falsify results of English-language competency tests.

According to rules, applicants for permanent residency and work or students` visas must pass the International English Testing System (IELTS) which is relied upon by the Department of Immigration.

During a hearing, it was revealed that, in 2009, Abdul Kader, who migrated from India and is now an Australian citizen, was living in a shared house with an employee at the Curtin English Language Centre, Keith Low.

Kader had been approached by his former petrol station workmate Pritesh Shah concerned about a friend, Vishnal Pandya, who was applying for permanent residency but was repeatedly failing the English language requirements.

Kader told the CCC hearing today that Shah asked him whether he knew anyone who could help his friend. He told him that he knew Low.

Later, Low said he could help Pandya and a cash payment was arranged.

Kader said as "the middle man" in the operation he didn`t really want to know how the falsification of test results was done.

"I did ask how he was doing it and he said he was changing the scores in the system and mentioned something about using different persons` log in ID to log into the computer," he said.

After the first bribe was paid, Shah began arranging for the IELTS exam results of more of his friends to be falsified with Kader becoming an intermediary.

Kader, currently working as an accountant, collected the names, passport numbers, date of births and cash payments from those wanting their IELTS to be changed and gave them to Low.

Applicants would normally pay USD 1500 with Kader receiving a commission, usually what ever amount was paid in excess.

He said between 2009 and 2010 as many as 25 people paid bribes for their IELTS scores to be changed. During that period Rajesh Kumar, an acquaintance of Shah also joined the operation.

"It grew as time went on, initially it started with like one, then one came in a few weeks later," Kader said, adding, "When Rajesh (came in) the number grew higher because Rajesh had a fair few people applying for their permanent residency."

The CCC`s investigation will also determine whether the Curtin English Language Centre had policies in place to detect misconduct and examine whether the IELTS had been compromised at testing centres operated by any other public authorities.

The week-long hearing continues.