Staff Reporter –
Fijian national Faroz Ali, aka, Feroz Ali, the first person to be convicted of people trafficking in New Zealand, has been sent to prison for nine years and six months by the High Court of Auckland.
The Court also ordered him to pay a total of $28,167 reparation to his victims.
In his verdict, Judge Paul Health said, “People trafficking is an abhorrent crime which degrades human dignity. This sentence is hugely significant and should act as a huge deterrent for people smugglers.”
Feroz Ali, who has New Zealand residence, was found guilty in September of 15 human trafficking charges involving Fijian nationals.
He was also convicted of 15 charges of aiding and abetting a person to unlawfully enter New Zealand and one charge of aiding and abetting a person to remain unlawfully in New Zealand.
Ali had earlier pleaded guilty to 26 charges of helping people breach their visa conditions and exploiting them by not paying them the minimum wage and holiday pay.
The court heard that the Fijians were enticed to work in New Zealand after answering advertisements placed in Fijian newspapers by Ali’s Fiji-based wife and sister-in-law. They were charged large sums of money but when they arrived here they were forced to work illegally for long hours, live in cramped conditions and paid little, if anything.
The Fijians either worked for Ali’s gib fixing business in Auckland or were sent to Tauranga to work in the horticulture business in an arrangement organised by the defendant and his wife.
All the Fijian nationals have now returned home.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) Assistant General Manager Peter Devoy said that the sentence was a great result and showed allegations of people trafficking and immigration fraud are taken seriously by his department.
“It took almost 6000 man hours to gather enough evidence to launch the prosecution which led to New Zealand’s first ever people trafficking convictions and this is truly a landmark moment. Some of the victims borrowed large sums of money to come here and now remain heavily indebted, while others used up their life savings to come to New Zealand,” he said.
Photo Caption: Faroz or Feroz Ali (Pool Photograph)