Malaysian authorities said Friday they have taken action against "husbands for hire", local men who marry foreign women for money, allowing them to stay in the country and work illegally.
The "husbands", often impoverished middle-aged men including rubber-tappers and fishermen, agree to the fake marriages to allow the women to obtain a one-year permit to remain in Malaysia, an immigration official said.
"We have arrested some women working in entertainment outlets and they would tell us that they are here on a social visit pass," Mohammed Shukri Nawi, immigration director from northern Perak state, told Agence France Presse.
Newspaper reports said the women, who are mostly from Vietnam and China, worked in nightclubs but Shukri would not say whether they were engaged in illegal activities such as prostitution.
"When their husband comes forward for the investigation, we get suspicious as to why there is such a huge age gap and how they can afford to pay the agents because marrying foreign women is costly," he said.
"It is after the investigation that these husbands admitted it was a marriage of convenience for them and they actually live separately with the 'wife'."
Shukri said that the women caught in the sham marriages would be deported but that no action would be taken against the Malaysian "husbands" as there is no law to deal with the issue.
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