Vijay Sorthia, 36, from Stanmore was an accredited immigration officer working in the UK. But he used his role and the firm "Migration Gurus" based on High Street, Wealdstone, to help many migrants to stay in the UK illegally.
After being found guilty last year, Sorthia has been serving a 10 year prison sentence. His wife, aged 32, who claimed to be employed as a cleaner by Migration Gurus, was arrested a month later and sentenced to 15 months alongside her husband at Isleworth Crown Court.
Now the court has ordered the pair to repay proceeds of crime totalling nearly £800,000 within the next 6 months or Vijay Sorthia will have to serve an additional 3.5 years in prison.
Home Office investigation team recovered £333,000 in cash hidden at the back of a cupboard from Sorthia’s Stanmore home. The recovered cash will go towards the repayment of the £800,000 confiscation order but the couple will have to arrange for the remainder of the amount.
During the initial investigation it was found that an additional £467,000 had been sent to India.
Home Office investigations revealed that Vijay Sorthia had dozens of clients who had applied for visas claiming to be highly skilled migrants.
The couple were using dozens of 'cover' companies, with bank accounts registered in the names of Sorthia and his wife, to provide clients with salary slips and wage payments to make it look like they were employed and earning much more than they actually were, according to the UK border force.
These would then be used as proof to aid clients’ immigration applications to the Home Office.
“Vijay and Bhawna Sorthia knowingly flouted the UK’s immigration laws. They ran a sophisticated scam designed to help people who would otherwise have no right to be here stay in the UK,” said Robert Coxhead, senior investigating officer from the UK Border Agency at the time of the arrest.
“The amount of cash found at their home illustrates how lucrative this was, and we will now begin the process of stripping them of those assets using the Proceeds of Crime Act.”
Fifteen clients who benefitted from the Sorthia scam have already been convicted and sentenced to between 8 and 10 months in prison. Fourteen of these have already been removed from the UK.
“I am delighted that the court has ordered the Sorthias to pay back this money, obtained through criminal activity which abused our immigration laws. It is a warning to others: you will be pursued through the courts and deprived of your criminal profits,” said Mark Rickard, West London, criminal and financial investigation team, Home Office.
The Sorthias face deportation after they have served their sentences.