A director of a Wellington immigration agency has been sentenced for her role in the exploitation of migrant workers in an immigration scam masterminded by her and her husband.
Jinyan Zhang, aka Jenny Zhang, and Ming Young, of Ancheng International Group Ltd were involved in applying for visas for Chinese chefs who paid the agency to help them complete work visa applications to come to New Zealand. On arrival in New Zealand the chefs were exploited in a number of ways, including being paid less than the minimum wage, subjected to poor working conditions and placed in employment in contravention of their visas.
At the Wellington District Court today Jenny Zhang was sentenced to 10 months’ home detention, 300 hours’ community work and ordered to pay a total of $30,000 reparation to six of the victims. She had pleaded guilty to a total of seven charges, including four of aiding and abetting various Chinese nationals to breach their visa conditions and a representative charge of attempting to obstruct the course of justice relating to four victims. She also admitted two charges of supplying false or misleading information to Immigration New Zealand (INZ).
Ming Young admitted one charge of supplying false or misleading information to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and will be sentenced on 10 December.
A third defendant, restaurateur Jimmy Cheung will be sentenced tomorrow after pleading guilty to five charges, including three counts of supplying false or misleading information to an immigration officer, one charge of aiding and abetting a Chinese national to breach their visa conditions and one charge of exploitation by paying an unlawful worker less than the minimum wage.
A fourth defendant, restaurateur Humphrey Man, will also be sentenced tomorrow after being convicted of four charges of supplying false or misleading information to an immigration officer. Three charges involved three employment agreements being false and misleading and one charge where he gave information to an immigration officer that he had dismissed an employee when she had never worked for him.
A fifth defendant, company director Yao Wen Jiang, was fined $20,100 last year after pleading guilty to charges to exploitation under the Immigration Act for being in serious breach of the Minimum Wage Act 1983 in respect of three employees who he knew to be unlawful.
INZ’s lead investigator in the case, Kerri Fergusson, says the judge has sent a strong message to employers that exploitation of workers will not be tolerated, even if they are unlawfully in New Zealand.
“Addressing the exploitation of migrants is a priority for INZ and the wider Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment,” Ms Fergusson says. “We will not tolerate employers who exploit migrant labour for their own commercial advantage and we will not hesitate to take action against those who are implicated in such behaviour.
“The behaviour of the directors of the immigration agency involved was reprehensible and Jenny Zhang has now had her licence cancelled. Immigration New Zealand strongly urges anyone who has an issue with their adviser to contact the Immigration Advisers Authority.
“These migrants genuinely believed they were coming to New Zealand to fill a legitimate vacancy and the treatment they received is completely inexcusable.”
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