13 Sep 2023

Couple sentenced over falsified visas, underpaying workers

3:35 pm on 13 September 2023
Exterior of the Manukau District Court

Sentencing took place at Manukau District Court on Tuesday. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

An Auckland couple have each been sentenced to 10-and-a-half months' home detention on immigration fraud and migrant exploitation charges.

Vikram Madaan, Susheel Madaan and three Auckland-based companies registered to the family pleaded guilty to 11 charges in total.

Immigration New Zealand said the couple provided false and misleading information to the agency when submitting visa applications.

National manager for investigations Stephanie Greathead said they also paid their temporary workers below the minimum wage over extended periods.

"We estimate the victims, in this case, were collectively underpaid by the Madaans and their companies by a substantial amount during the terms of their employment."

Greathead said the conviction should act as a strong warning to anyone considering employing migrants who are not entitled to work, or exploiting temporary or unlawful migrants.

"No form of exploitation is acceptable in New Zealand, and you will be held to account."

At the Manukau District Court on Tuesday, Judge June Jelas gave both offenders three years imprisonment and a discount of 45 percent for their guilty pleas, for good character and showing ongoing support of family members and the community, for the reparation they paid and other matters.

This meant the end sentence would be 21 months imprisonment or 10.5 months each to be served in home detention.

Anonymous tip-offs to CrimeStoppers in 2017 and 2018 were finally investigated in 2019, which led to charges being filed in the Manukau District Court in July 2020.

Immigration NZ said the delay was due to staffing levels and a number of complex investigations they were already dealing with.

The victims have supported the investigation and have remained in New Zealand.

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