NICOSIA - Police have launched an investigation into sham marriages in the capital after a 33-year-old man from Pakistani claimed he was employed by two Greek Cypriot lawyers to help in the fixing of marriages between third country nationals and EU member citizens.
The suspect was remanded for eight days in custody this week after police said evidence surfaced connecting him with around 30 suspected fake marriages.
During questioning, the suspect claimed he was regularly paid commission for locating female EU citizens in Cyprus to take part in sham marriages arranged by two lawyers.
He said third country nationals would pay a €2,000 advance of which he would receive €700.
The lawyers would take a €1,100 cut while the remainder would be used by the suspect to purchase or manufacture the fake documentation necessary to perform the weddings.
The Pakistani suspect maintains the lawyers were in on the scam and fully aware that the documentation provided was false
According to the police, the suspect has been an illegal immigrant in Cyprus since October 2013 when his residency permit expired. When officers arrested him he was carrying a briefcase containing marriage and travel documentation belonging to around a dozen migrant men.
Nicosia CID is currently trying to track down the lawyers named by the suspect for questioning. Police will also be probing several municipalities where a number of the suspected sham marriages were performed.
Several municipalities have been investigated in the past on suspicion of facilitating or turning blind eye to marriages of convenience.
The law stipulates that before a wedding ceremony both spouses must present a valid passport, a pink slip if required and proof of termination of any previous marriages, while a witness must also be present.
Most cases of marriages of convenience in Cyprus involve asylum seekers and visiting citizens from other EU countries who come to the island to get married for a fee and often leave immediately.