Directors of two law firms which generated £2.5m in fees from providing unregulated immigration advice have been fined almost £17,000 and ordered to pay £28,000 compensation.

Dan Romulus Dandes and Babbar Ali Jamil (directors at DDR Legal Services LLP) and Zia Bi (director of Burlow & Spencer Ltd) were sentenced yesterday at the Old Bailey.

The three were found guilty of providing unqualified immigration advice and/or services in April 2020 following a two-year investigation by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner.

One of the affected clients, it was reported, had to leave the UK permanently, while another paid £7,000 in expenses to contest a failed immigration application. Others had to travel to Shanghai or Bangkok to submit applications that were bound to be rejected and a couple who travelled for work were unable to leave the UK for two years while their documentation was sorted out.

In sentencing, Judge Munro said: ‘The consequential loss and the impact on the complainants is far-reaching and in some cases devastating.

‘All of the defendants were of previous good character. The mitigation in all cases is a genuine lack of knowledge that the criminal behaviour was in fact criminal. Both Ms Bi and Mr Dandes now accept that they were negligent and innocent people suffered as a result.’

The OISC said Dandes began a supervision scheme for DDR Legal Services, claiming qualification as an EU registered lawyer. Burlow and Spencer Ltd, one of the law firms he allegedly supervised, were investigated after an unprecedented 95 complaints were received about the quality of its immigration advice. This firm ceased trading in 2019.

Speaking after sentencing, John Tuckett, immigration services commissioner, said: ‘These financial penalties will not be able to fully or properly compensate victims for the severe consequences of the defendants’ actions, but we hope it will emphasise the importance of using regulated immigration advisers.’