Daily Mail (London), January 11, 2011
Smiling for the camera, this photo shows Britain’s biggest sham wedding organiser moments after he had married off his own pregnant girlfriend for money.
Vladymyr Buchak, from the Ukraine, recruited hundreds of paid brides-to-be from Eastern Europe who were married to African men at a church in St Leonard’s, East Sussex.
As these pictures show, he was even willing for the mother of his unborn child to tie the knot with the illegal immigrant Mikael Prince.
The 27-year-old Liberian paid up to £15,000 to marry Latvian Larisa Kuznecova in 2006, believing it to be a passport to EU citizenship and its lifelong benefits.
The bride dressed in red to match her hair, received a fraction of that sum to supplement her meagre earnings as a part-time hairdresser in St Leonard’s.
Mr Buchak posed as one of the wedding guests for the photo, which was later used to support Prince’s application to the Home Office for UK residency.
He was jailed in September for helping to organise the fake ceremonies of hundreds of couples in the biggest church wedding immigration scam in UK history.
Between 2005 and 2009, 360 couples were falsely married at St Peter and St Paul’s Church in St Leonard’s, East Sussex.
Reverend Alex Brown was found guilty of conducting 360 sham marriages at the church of St Peter and St Paul in St Leonard’s. He married up to eight fake couples a day
The conveyor belt of weddings roused suspicions of the parishioners, who said they felt locked out of their own church, but the diocese took no action.
Mr Buchak, 34, a sausage factory worker, found the brides while Michael Adelasoye, 50, a Nigerian pastor and lawyer, found the paying African ‘grooms’.
Disgraced Anglican vicar Alex Brown, 62, sneakily married up to eight fake couples a day until the con was rumbled by the sheer volume of weddings.
The three men were all jailed for four years after a Lewes Crown Court trial in September.
However, Mr Prince absconded from bail last week and is still on the run. He was convicted in his absence of avoiding removal from the UK and perjury offences at Hove Crown Court.
He was sentenced to 13 months in prison and a warrant has now been issued for his arrest.
Mr Buchak pictured at Lewes Crown Court. He was jailed for four years in September 2010 for his role in a series of sham weddings
Andy Cummins, head of the South East Immigration Crime Team, said: ‘We would appeal to anyone who may have information about Prince’s whereabouts to come forward to us. We want to track this man down and put him behind bars.’
Miss Kuznecova, 27, was originally charged with conspiring to breach immigration laws alongside the crooked trio and faced a hefty jail sentence.
However, she walked free with a 12-month conditional discharge in December after the court accepted her plea to the much lesser offence of giving a false address on her wedding licence.
Mr Cummins added: ‘The UK Border Agency takes abuse of the immigration system very seriously, and we are working closely with churches and registrars to identify suspect sham marriages.
‘If we uncover marriages that are not genuine, we will challenge them and prosecute where appropriate. Our main aim is to identify the organisers who profit from and fuel the demand for sham marriages, and destroy their criminal business.’
Just three sham wedding participants have been given jail sentences in connection with the scam. Another 11 escaped with police cautions, the UK Border Agency said yesterday.
The UKBA does not know how many of the 360 African ‘grooms’ are still living freely in the UK and says no further prosecutions are ongoing, although they are actively looking for one or two individuals.