Jail time for labour hire organiser who supplied illegal workers and dealt in proceeds of crime

A Melbourne man has been sentenced to 14 months imprisonment after being convicted of multiple charges relating to illegal work and dealing with proceeds of crime.

In 2016, an investigation led by the Australian Border Force (ABF) resulted in the execution of search warrants on farms and residential properties in Koo Wee Rup, Victoria with the assistance of the Australian Federal Police.

During the warrants, multiple foreign workers attempted to flee through fields before fifty were detained and over $500,000 in cash was seized during the operation.

Today the labour hire intermediary who had provided the foreign labour workforce was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, and $40,000 in fines in connection with supplying foreign workers without permission to work.

This follows the plea of guilty entered on 22 March 2021 for:

  • Allowing an unlawful non-citizen to work s245AB(1) of the Migration Act 1958;
  • Allowing a lawful non-citizen to work in breach of a work-related condition s245AC(1) of the Migration Act 1958;
  • Deal with proceeds of crime worth $100,000 or more s400.4(2) of the Criminal Code.

Foreign workers are a vulnerable cohort, often exploited by labour hire companies due to limited language skills, awareness of rights, or need for money. The combination of these factors results in exploitative work practices, including underpayment, unsafe conditions, or indentured labour.

ABF Acting Commander Nick Walker commented on the success of the operation which formed part of a broader strategy involving the ABF and the AFP working together to disrupt criminal syndicates involved in the exploitation of foreign workers.

“This type of offending undermines the integrity of the migration system, causes a loss of tax revenue and preys on the vulnerable”

“The ABF and its partners are committed to targeting those who wish to profit from the exploitation of foreign workers”

“People who remain in Australia illegally, or without permission to work, are particularly susceptible to unethical business practices and exploitation. They are exposed to unsafe work environments, punishing schedules, and exploitation”.

In sentencing remarks, His Honour, Judge Lyon, stated that ‘a message must be sent that dealing in and amassing sums of money from criminal offending cannot be tolerated and will usually be met by a period of imprisonment’.

Anyone with information about non-compliance with visa sponsorship obligations should contact Border Watch at australia.gov.au/borderwatch. You can provide information anonymously.

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