3 Nov 2016

Manager of failed college told us to lie - migrant

7:55 am on 3 November 2016

The marketing manager at a failed Auckland private college was accused of telling a witness in the country's first human trafficking trial to lie to authorities, court documents show.

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Photo: 123rf

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority accepted Amrik Singh Sangha's statutory declaration that he was a fit and proper person to help run the International Academy of New Zealand (IANZ), despite Mr Sangha's history of exploiting migrant workers.

In 2012 the Employment Relations Authority accepted Mr Singh had taken thousands of dollars off a migrant employee by threatening to derail her work visa.

A year earlier, vineyard workers of his were caught in a fish factory in breach of their visas, and served deportation liability notices.

Last year, in an interview trasncript submitted to a human trafficking trial in the High Court in Nelson, a witness told his lawyer that Mr Sangha told him to lie to immigration investigators.

Amrik Singh Sangha

Amrik Singh Sangha Photo: Supplied

Daldeep Singh was one of 18 prosecution witnesses originally called for the trial.

They were all part of a larger group who paid $30,000 or more each to come over from India on work visas for vineyard contracting in 2009.

But once they arrived they had problems getting work, which put their short-term visas in jeopardy.

About two dozen of the workers tried to get refugee status. They told the trial that the defendants suggested they make up stories to support this bid.

Two defendants, Jaswinder Singh Sangha and Kulwant Singh, were found guilty of giving false statements to Immigration New Zealand, but the human trafficking charges were not proved.

When the refugee ruse failed, Daldeep Singh said in the interview transcript that he and four other workers turned to Mr Sangha for help.

Mr Sangha told him to tell investigators that a former business partner of his was part of the scamming the workers.

Daldeep Singh told the interview translator the other man was "not bad, he wasn't involved", but Mr Sangha had told Mr Singh "to lie, otherwise he won't get the visa".

In the transcript, Mr Singh said Mr Sangha coached five migrants this way ahead of interviews with immigration investigators.

In a separate, formal statement for the court before that interview, Mr Singh talked about paying $33,000 - and getting no receipt - before he left India, expecting to get a work visa initially for two years and then being able to try to settle in New Zealand.

In the statement , he said the stress on his family in India of being unable to repay the loan raised to send him here led to his 27-year-old brother dying of a heart attack in 2011, and his father dying of a heart attack in 2012.

RNZ's calls and texts to Amrik Singh Sangha have not been returned.

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