Indian-origin couple faces court over sham marriages

Brisbane: An Indian-origin couple accused of arranging sham marriages for Indian men in Australia so that they could secure visas, yesterday faced a committal hearing in the Brisbane Magistrate’s Court.

Chetan Mohanlal Mashru has been accused of 17 counts of arranging marriages for visas and 28 other charges, including influencing a Commonwealth public official, ABC Online reported.

Divya Krishne Gowda, the marriage celebrant accused of officiating the fake unions, also faces 17 counts of arranging marriages for visas.

Robert Ansell, the Department of Immigration official who investigated the marriages, told the court that they first became aware of the scheme after a newspaper article published in April 2012.

Ansell said he had concerns about 40 to 50 visa applicants who had been married by Gowda.

“It appeared as though it was an organised matter and not a series of one-offs,” he said.

Three young women gave evidence about their marriages.

Tahnee Edser said she got married at a house in Oxley. When asked if she had suspicions what she was doing was illegal, Edser replied: “Yes, I had suspicions, but didn’t know the extent.”