EU countries irate over sham marriage rings in Cyprus

Portugal and Romania have complained to Nicosia over a number of their citizens falling prey to gangs organizing fake marriages conducted by municipalities on the island.

According to Philenews, Romania and Portugal have complained that their citizens are being exploited by networks who are using them in sham marriages with third-country nationals.

It quotes an official saying that the issue is growing and could be compared to organized crime through people trafficking.

Women from Romania and Portugal who find themselves in financial trouble are approached by networks active in their countries with connections in Cyprus, and, after being persuaded, come to the island and marry men mainly from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Once the marriage takes place, the third country citizens then register as spouses of a European citizen and both sides go their separate way.

Reportedly, interviews conducted by police with the alleged victims of these networks reveal that a number of EU nationals are paid between Euros 500 to Euros 1000 to perform the marriage, while the networks pocket thousands of euros.

The Interior Ministry is considering a number of measures; however, the problem seems to lie with municipalities who are not vetting suspect couples to determine whether the marriage they are about to enter is genuine or not.

Allegedly there are cases, where the prospective groom did not know the full name of his bride to be.

The Ministry is considering various measures to make procedures more stringent, with the Department of Population and Migration conducting a more in-depth investigation of documents filed in cases involving a European and a third country citizen.

The problem has been around for years and despite past pledges, it has yet to be stamped out.

In 2017, then-Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos pledged to crack down on the phenomenon but more than two years later it was still going strong, despite numerous arrests by the police.

At the time, Hasikos had talked about criminal rings engaging in human trafficking.

Source: The Financial Mirror