ZWOLLE–The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Zwolle, the Netherlands, on Tuesday demanded a prison term of 2.5 years for a male suspect who arranged fake marriages between Nigerian men and Dutch Caribbean women. The couples were wed in France.
The 31-year-old suspect, who resides in Rotterdam as an “undesirable foreigner,” is not only suspected of arranging fake marriages, but also of human smuggling, illegally residing in the Netherlands and money laundering. The offences were committed during the period January 2012-December 31, 2013. The Court in Zwolle handled the case on Tuesday.
The suspect came into view during an investigation of the French Police of the high number of fake marriages that were secured in the Paris district. At least four French suspects who were involved in recruiting brides were investigated.
The fake marriages in the Paris region mainly involved Nigerian men and vulnerable Dutch Caribbean women living in the Netherlands. The Dutch National Prosecutor’s Office started an investigation early 2013 based on the information from France.
One of the French suspects indicated that the 31-year-old man in Rotterdam, whom he recognised from a photo, recruited women. There was also a formal complaint of the Dutch ambassador in Paris against the 31-year-old in connection with the falsification of consular documents.
Various tapped telephone conversations, statements of brides and incriminating evidence found in the suspect’s home indicated that the man acted as marriage broker: he recruited vulnerable women in the Netherlands, mostly of Dutch Caribbean descent. He accompanied the women to France where they married Nigerian men whom they never met before.
The main objective of these fake marriages was to secure legal residency papers for the Nigerian grooms. The brides received a remuneration of a few thousand euros, according to the Public Prosecutor.
The suspect, who was married to a Dutch woman in Spain, probably also to gain access to Europe, lived illegally in Rotterdam. He was declared an undesirable foreigner by the Court since 2008, but refused to leave the country.
The man in question had no fixed income but lived in luxury, the Prosecutor said. “The suspect paid women to arrange all kinds of luxury for him: a fancy apartment, expensive clothing and cars, and accommodations in classy hotels.” For that reason, the suspect was also charged with money laundering. “The thousands of euros that the suspect earned could only be derived from crime.”
Investigations in France and Great Britain show an increasing number of fake marriages in order to directly access European Union (EU) rights. In most of these cases it concerned Nigerian men and women of Dutch Caribbean descent who are in possession of a Dutch passport.
After the marriage, the “broker” and the groom would promptly submit falsified housing and income statements in order to request a European residency permit. The fake marriage enabled this because the Nigerian groom was a new husband of an EU citizen. The Netherlands continues to tackle fake marriages with the assistance of multi-disciplinary teams and specific actions.