An immigration officer faked a visa application in an attempt to bring a Nigerian nanny to Britain to work for only £300 a month, a court heard today.
Natasha Vukic, who was working for the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in Nigeria, tried to bring housekeeper Rose Inah back to the UK with her as ‘cheap labour’, jurors were told.
Vukic, 36, and her partner James Mooney, 33, wrongly claimed that Ms Inah had been working for them in Nigeria for a year to ensure that she would qualify for a visa, it is alleged.
In reality, they had only employed the woman for six months, Inner London Crown Court was told.
Vukic and Mooney, who had also worked as an immigration officer but later took up a management position with the Foreign Office in Lagos, both deny a count of assisting unlawful immigration.
They are alleged to have faked Ms Inah’s documents so they could bring her to their home in Coulsdon, south London, where she would have worked 11 hours a day, five days a week, looking after their three year-old son for just £300 a month.
Prosecutor Riel Karmy-Jones told the jury: ‘The motive is one of greed. Had they succeeded, had Rose come to the UK for a period of a year, she would have worked for what can only be described as a pittance.’
Vukic and Mooney are alleged to have hatched the plan in May 2011 at a secure compound where government staff were posted.
Miss Karmy-Jones said: ‘Their role in this offence is all the more culpable and serious because of what they do, for Natasha Vukic and James Mooney have both considered and approved and refused the applications made by others.
‘They have, in effect, stood in judgement over others for the very same offence they have now committed.’
Outlining the allegation, Miss Karmy-Jones said: ‘Sometime in the spring of 2011 Natasha Vukic and James Mooney decided to return to the UK.
‘Natasha Vukic had obtained a transfer back to the UK. She was due to take up a post in the UKBA’s Criminal and Financial Investigations Unit, based in Croydon.
‘She planned to take her young son with her. No doubt on her mind was childcare, and specifically the cost of childcare in London was something that she and James Mooney had to consider.’
The prosecutor added: ‘They hit upon a plan that their Nigerian nanny and maid Rose would be the ideal candidate to continue to look after their son when Natasha worked in London.’
Vukic was then said to have filled out a visa application form on their maid’s behalf.
Mooney allegedly submitted the form on May 25 last year, together with a copy of the maid’s contract claiming she had been working for the couple since May 10, 2010.
However, Miss Karmy-Jones told jurors that Ms Inah had only been working for the couple since November 2010 – six months less than they had written on her visa application.
She added: ‘In submitting that form, as they did, Natasha Vukic and James Mooney were breaking the law.’
Having been granted the visa, Mooney was said to have asked for it to be reissued as it had only been granted for 11 months as opposed to the full year requested, jurors were told.
This attracted the attention of issuing officer Lindsey Moore, who knew the couple and recalled visiting their flat in the autumn of 2010 before a night out.
On that visit, Mrs Moore had found Vukic annoyed that their maid was late, it is claimed.
Mrs Moore is then said to have heard that the couple had sacked the unreliable maid shortly afterwards and found a replacement called Rose – months later than claimed on the application form.
Further investigation revealed a log showing the previous maid, Georgina, had not handed in her security pass until November 2, 2011 and that Rose had only been issued her first pass sixteen days later, the court heard.
The maid named Georgina was interviewed and confirmed that she had been sacked ‘a few months before Christmas 2010’ after being accused of stealing around £4, it is claimed.
A search of Mooney’s staff email uncovered a message sent by him to a colleague, confirming he and Vukic had hired a new nanny, jurors heard.
Vukic, who had since returned to the UK, was arrested on June 8 last year. She had allegedly emailed a UKBA colleague, saying: ‘It’s not looking good, I’ll speak to you later.’
Vukic denied the allegation, as did her partner when he returned to the UK for an interview later that month.
Mooney even claimed that Mrs Moore ‘did not like him because he went out drinking with her husband,’ the court heard.
The trial continues.