Of a total of 444 suspected sham marriages, the attorney general has brought cases to have 270 annulled. The remaining cases still require additional investigation or notification before they can go forward.
High profile sham marriages include Arthur Budovsky, who laundered $6 billion in transactions for Liberty Reserve. He is reported as having paid 300,000 colones ($566) to a woman in exchange for marriage, so he could remain legally in Costa Rica. Article 181 of the penal code provides for 2 to 5 years imprisonment for those who consent to sham marriage for the purposes of obtaining immigration benefits.
To deal with the problem immigration is performing additional verification to detect possible sham marriages before approving residency applications. These include checking records to make sure both parties are alive, and are in the country at the time of the marriage, and asking judicial authorities if there are any pending criminal investigations. Also marriages performed abroad are getting more scrutiny.
However, immigration officials are at odds with the civil registry, which handles naturalization. At issue is that a foreigner who is married to a citizen can request nationalization after living in Costa Rica for two years. Immigration officials question why this is granted by the civil registry, in cases when the two years are spent in an irregular status.