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SEF investigation: heavy sentences for criminal conspiracy in marriages of convenience

​The court of Loures has convicted, yesterday, eight defendants for criminal conspiracy, marriages of convenience and forgery of administrative documents, in result of an investigation held by the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), in January 2019, named operação “Amouda".

According to the decision, the criminal group, led by a foreign national of Hindustani origin, now convicted to nine years of imprisonment, has been dedicating, for several years, to the organisation of marriages of convenience between illegally staying foreign nationals and Portuguese nationals, with the sole purpose to get the legalisation in Portugal, Belgium and Germany, in exchange of huge amounts of money of about 12 thousand euros per person.

The women attracted to marriages of convenience were living under an economic and socially vulnerable situation, and were lured with the promise of between EUR 1.500 and EUR 5.000 to marry men of Hindustani origin, which they did not knew. The couples would then travel to Belgium where the Hindustani nationals would try and get their legalisation by means of the marriage with an EU citizen, allowing the husbands to stay in the European Union, obtain residence permits and then illegal profits with social benefits.

In addition to the foreign national leadership, the criminal conspiracy comprised other foreign nationals, of Hindustani origin as well, and Portuguese nationals, including one lawyer with office in Odivelas who, as such, had the main mission to authenticate false documents necessary for the marriages.

Under this investigation, SEF has cooperated with the German police in carrying out home searches in Germany, in June 2019. The team of four SEF inspectors and one member from Europol have accompanied the local authorities in every proceeding. These searches have been requested by the Portuguese authorities, under the joint investigation held with the Belgian police and in cooperation with the German police.

This operation resulted in the seizure of documentation supporting the activity of this network, in particular false marriage certificates, passports of Portuguese nationals, supporting proof of travel payments and money transfer receipts between the members of the network, as well as several equipment such as smartphones and laptops.

The searches have allowed to establish liaisons between the investigation held by SEF and other ongoing investigations in Germany.

  

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