Indian student jailed in Australia for visa scam

Melbourne: A Perth-based Indian student will spend 14 months in jail for his involvement in a scam to falsify English test scores to get Australian visas.

Rajesh Kumar, 31, faced ten charges for his part in fraudulently altering the International English Testing System (IELTS) scores at Perth’s Curtin University between November 2009 and June 2010. A Perth District Court sentenced Rajesh Kumar on Monday after he pleaded guilty for changing the outcomes of IELTS test apparently to get permanent residence in Australia.

Nine other persons have already been jailed in a scam to increase the IELTS scores to get permanent residence in Australia. The list includes Kok Keith Low, a Curtin University English Language Centre employee who would be behind the bars for two years for playing the key role in falsifying the scores for various, mostly, Indian students.

Anyone achieving a score of a minimum 7.0 in four IELTS components gets extra points in the skilled points test to get permanent residence in Australia.

Rajesh Kumar was found guilty of taking a total of $32,000 from three IELTS candidates applying for Australian visas. He kept $14,000 for himself while giving remainder to an intermediary Pritesh Shah. The latter paid some of this bribe to Kok Keith Low who would then falsify the score at Curtin University’s IELTS test centre.

The former Indian student had earlier paid $5,000 to Shah to get his own IELTS score changed to enable him to apply for an Australian visa.

The investigation carried out by Western Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission led to the conviction of ten persons including Rajesh Kumar. In total, 73 charges were laid against 12 persons leading to fines of up to $20,000 and maximum jail of two years given to the former Curtin employee Kok Keith Low who faced 15 counts of bribery.

A former Indian national (and Kok Low’s flatmate) Abdul Kader was sentenced for 18 months of imprisonment on 15 counts while Pritesh Shah has been handed a one year’s sentence.

Judge Jeremy Curthoys of West Australian District Court has, according to The Australian newspaper, found Rajesh Kumar guilty of compromising the integrity of Australia’s migration program.

‘It was greed – pure and simple,’ The Australian has quoted Judge Curthoys as saying while handing down the sentence to the Indian student.

Rajesh Kumar’s sentence was backdated to November 2 last year when he was arrested after arriving back in Australia from India.