Cleaning boss jailed for immigration scam

Halyna Semenikhina. Photo: UK Home Office

A Hackney woman has been jailed after making hundreds of thousands of pounds by employing illegal immigrants.

Halyna Semenikhina of Well Street, Hackney was found guilty of assisting illegal immigration, money laundering and offences under the ID Cards Act, at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday 16 February. The judge sentenced her to five years in prison.

The 42-year-old Ukranian national was arrested following a raid on the Lanesborough Hotel, Hyde Park Corner on 12 August 2010 in which two cleaners were arrested for immigration offences.

The UK Border Agency’s London Immigration Crime Team found that Semenikhina was responsible for recruiting and supervising the cleaners. It was also discovered that Semenikhina had the employees’ wages paid into her bank account and charged them at least £200 per week for accommodation.

Chris Foster, who leads the London Immigration Crime Team for the UK Border Agency, said:

“This woman cruelly exploited the desperation of others for her own personal financial gain.

“As this case shows, illegal immigration can be big business. I hope this sends out a message that we are committed to tackling the criminals behind it, putting the ringleaders before the courts, and, ultimately behind bars.

“Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings are now underway, to confiscate her assets and ensure that Halyna Semenikhina never benefits from her criminality. She also faces deportation at the end of her sentence.”

A spokesperson for the Lanesborough Hotel said:

“The hotel did not employ an illegal immigrant, it was an agency member of staff and within their agreement, it is the agency’s duty to carry out appropriate checks on its personnel before assigning them to their clients. The hotel cooperated closely with the UK border agency with regard to this incident.”

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