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Cyprus mayor suspected of marriage racket

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Cyprus mayor suspected of marriage racket
Church of Panagia in Lysi, Northern Cyprus. Photo: George M. Groutas
10:50 CEST+02:00
The former mayor of the tiny municipality of Lysi in Northern Cyprus has been accused of presiding over fake marriages between Romanian and Bulgarian women and Bangladeshi and Pakistani men seeking the right to live and work in Norway.
According to Aftenposten newspaper, Norwegian police are investigating at least eight 'atypical' marriages involving women from Bulgaria and Romania, two countries whose citizens this year gained the right to live and work in any EEA country they choose, including Norway. 
 
The newspaper reports that 19 Bangladeshi men came to Norway at the start of the start of 2014 on the back of Cyprus marriage certificates.
 
The men's Romanian and Bulgarian wives said they were working in the country as cleaning personnel, allowing their husbands to apply for family reunion, qualifying them for permanent residency in the country. 
 
In Oslo at present more EEA citizens apply for family reunion with their spouse than Norwegians, with police believing around half of the marriages are 'atypical'. 
 
Police believe that some 600 applications could be made this year. As the rules for EEA citizens are laxer than those for Norwegian citizens seeking family reunion, the majority are likely to be accepted. 
 
"In principle these applications are approved so long as the EEA citizen can document that they work in Norway and show proof of their marriage," Fredrik Strøm at the Oslo Police's foreign department told Aftenposten. "However, we do see definite signs that neither the employment nor the marriage is real." 
 
In February Cypriot police arrested eight women from Bulgaria, two lawyers and a 33-year-old Greek Cypriot, who reportedly tricked women from Eastern Europe to come to Cyprus on the promise of work, and then arranged marriages between them and Pakistani immigrants. 
 
According to the Cyprus Mail, the lawyers charged the Pakistanis €2,000 for every marriage. 
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