Eight members of the Syrian Community in Grenada are accused of falsifying documents claiming to be married to nationals in an effort to obtain Grenadian Citizenship.
The suspects – Khalil Kardoul, Jarek Kardough, Basel Algherbi, Toni Algherbi, Sulaiman Eskendati, Amer Zoghieb, Emad Jouma, and Nawar Mansour who operate businesses in St. George’s and Grenville – were taken into custody following a one-year investigation by members of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
A charge of deceiving a Public Officer has been laid on each of the men who are allegedly part of a ring that was engaged in fixing illegal marriages since 2005.
The FIU is accusing the men of lying to a government employee stating that they are married to local women as they sought to obtain a Grenadian Passport and qualifying them for citizenship status.
Toni Algherbi, a 32-year old businessman who resides at Tanteen, St. George’s, is accused of committing the offense between December 2 and 14, 2009 while Basel Algherbi, a 27-year old businessman, also of Tanteen, is accused of committing the offense between April 26, 2010 and June 8, 2010.
In addition, Jarek Kardough, 39-year old businessman who resides at Independence Avenue, St. George’s, is accused of committing the offense between April 30, 2010 and August 28, 2010 and Emad Jouno, 31-year old salesman residing at San Souci, St. George’s, is accused of committing the offense between May 19, 2010 and August 31, 2010.
In the case of Khalil Karboula, 37-year old businessman residing at Mardi Gras, St. George’s, is accused of committing the offense between July 14, 2010 and August 6, 2010 while Amar Zoghieb, a 28-year old unemployed living at Archibald Avenue, St. George’s, is accused of committing the offense between July 15, 2010 and October 8, 2010.
Two others – Sulaiman Eskendati, 26-year old salesman residing at Mardi Gras, St. George’s, is accused of committing the offence between August 14, 2010 and August 16, 2010 while Nawar Mansour, 25-year old businessman who resides at Woburn, St. George’s, is accused of committing the offence between August 30, 2010 and September 8, 2010.
Head of the FIU, Senneth Joseph told THE NEW TODAY Newspaper that based on the working of his department in conjunction with the Office of the Prime Minister, they were able to unearth what was taking place with respect to these illegal marriages involving the Syrians.
As part of its mandate, the FIU has access to documents and would conduct the relevant searches to ascertain a foreigner’s marriage status.
Joseph said, the investigation was being conducted for about one year and the unit felt it had sufficient information to crack down on the men.
He said the ladies who are purported to be married to the men were innocently lured into signing documents that were presented to them by the men who had hired them as employers.
Joseph said that these so-called fake marriages occurred in Trinidad and Tobago, but the young ladies, some of whom do not even have a passport, had not even traveled to the neighbouring island in their lifetime.
The intensive investigation led FIU Officers to travel to Trinidad to conduct further enquiries.
Joseph is confident that the on going probe can lead to the arrests of other Syrian men.
The FIU boss was quick to add that the law enforcement officials are not targeting the Syrian Community in Grenada.
He said it just happened that they are the ones who are involved in the scam, and it has nothing to do with what is taking place in their homeland in the Middle East.
The Syrian civil war that is referred to as the Syrian uprising is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the ruling Ba’ath Party and Government of President Bashar al-Assad and those seeking to topple his regime.
The conflict began on March 15, 2011 with public demonstrations as part of the wider Arab Spring.
Protesters are demanding the end to nearly five decades of Ba’ath Party rule, as well as the resignation of President Assad.
The Syrians were brought to court on Monday and were each granted bail by Chief Magistrate, Your Honour Tamara Gill in the sum of $5,000.00.
As part of the bail condition the suspects are to surrender all of their travel documents, and report to the Central Police Station on the Carenage every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
The arrested Syrians are due back in court on November 7.