Immigration fraud accused pleads ignorance

A restaurant owner accused of immigration fraud to get cheap labour says an immigration consultant prepared the paperwork and he only signed it.

In Wellington District Court today the man, who has name suppression, said he did not prepare any of the documents to get three workers into New Zealand.

Immigration consultants were the experts, prepared the documents and he signed them, he told a jury.

The man has pleaded not guilty to six charges of supplying or producing false or misleading immigration information and one charge of attempting to obstruct the course of justice.

The charges related to 2010 and 2011 when it is alleged an immigration consultancy arranged for three Chinese people to come to New Zealand on the basis they would work in the man’s restaurant.

The Crown alleges the three paid large fees to the immigration consultants to get work visas. One never worked in the restaurant, one was brought to the restaurant only when it was suspected immigration authorities were investigating, and one never worked there, it was alleged.

The Crown says the man exploited the staff and paid less than the $18 a hour promised in the application made to Immigration New Zealand.

Immigration authorities recognise Chinese chefs as being in short supply in New Zealand.

The Crown has finished its evidence and the defendant is giving evidence.

He said one of the ways he found chefs for the restaurant was for immigration consultants to arrange work visas for chefs from China and Hong Kong and recruit the staff. However, none of the three involved in the charges turned out to be a master chef, he said.

One had been a welder and another had worked in a pig farming factory, the man said.

The trial is continuing.

– The Dominion Post

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Immigration fraud accused pleads ignorance
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