Suspended solicitor jailed for providing unlawful immigration advice

Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner

April 17
10:00 2014

Mr Wishwa Ellepola, a 63 year old Sri Lankan national, but currently of Dean Lane, Edgware, London, was sentenced on 16 April 2014 at Southwark Crown Court having pleaded guilty to 7 counts of illegally providing immigration advice and services.

His conviction was the result of a prosecution brought by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). He was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment and ordered to pay 3,000 to his victims and in costs.

Mr Ellepola had represented himself as working for a regulated organisation called DJ Solicitors, (a regulated organisation) without their knowledge. He specifically targeted those within the local Sri Lankan community.

The OISC became aware of Mr Ellepolas activities on obtaining evidence that he was submitting application to the Home Office on behalf of a number of Sri Lankan nationals. His victims had no knowledge that Mr Ellepola was acting unlawfully.

When Ellepola was being prosecuted, Alistair Richardson told the court that he had maintained his unregulated commercial enterprise over a number of years.

In passing sentence, Judge Price said:

The terrible thing is that you took advantage of fellow Sri Lankans. You told them you were a solicitor, you told them you could help them and didnt.

You prejudiced their chances of staying in the country. You said that you had a friend at the Home Office; you told them not to phone the Home Office to protect yourself. You misled and cheated them and gave them hope that they would be able to stay. This was a gross breach of trust and the evidence against you is utterly overwhelming.

Speaking about the decision the Immigration Services Commissioner, Suzanne McCarthy, said:

The OISC is here to ensure that people seeking immigration advice are treated fairly by people they can trust. We have clear standards outlining what we expect in terms of the fitness and competence of regulated advisers.

Ellepola chose to operate outside the law, and without regard for the protection of his clients. I hope that the outcome of this case sends a clear message to others who may be considering providing immigration advice, either act within the law or you will find yourself in court.

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