Stranded migrants accuse employer of $1 million fraud

Twenty-three young migrants from Punjab, stranded in New Zealand without money or work have accused a South Island based Indian contractor of deceit and falsehood.

They have accused him of misleading them into an elaborate scam with the collusion of an Immigration Consultant, also of Indian extraction.

More than two years later, each of them has lost at least $50,000, with no justice in sight. They say that no one is seriously considering their plight.

The young migrants have also questioned the fairness of the Immigration regime and a lack of recourse to justice in a ‘strange land with strange laws.’

Police Complaint

Indian Newslink knows the identity of the 23 hapless workers and has been informed of their employer, his brother who acts as an agent in India and an Auckland based immigration consultant, who has been accused of being hand-in-glove in the scam.

Community leaders are helping them in the matter and at press time, the victims were considering lodging a police complaint against the accused.

The young men, all from Jalandhar or nearby places in North Indian Punjab State, were told by the contractor that they would be issued with a two-year work permit and that in less than 18 months they would become permanent residents with an entitlement to bring their families.

The contractor collected 1.4 million (about $45,000) from each of them for his troubles, along with their passports.

Seasonal employment

Manmohan Singh (not his real name), who spoke on behalf of his group said that although poor, they were happier in India but would not return unless they have recovered the money and proved to their families back home that they have gainful employment with some money saved.

“Most of us come from modest economic background. Our parents raised the money both mortgaging their property or jewellery and selling some assets. We received our passports only prior to departure at the Delhi airport. The visas in our passports were under the ‘Recognised Seasonal Employer Work’ Category, valid for only seven months.

“But the contractor’s brother (who collected the money) told us that ‘everything will be alright’ once we arrived in New Zealand,” he said.

But the reality was worse. There was no job for any of them. A few days after their arrival, the contractor brought an immigration consultant, who advised that they should apply for Refugee status.

“Each of us paid him $1100 for the Refugee application. After a prolonged process, the authorities rejected our application. We do not know what to do. We are at our wits end,” Manmohan Singh said.

A community leader said that the Contractor had breached New Zealand’s immigration and labour laws and that the Police should take appropriate action.

According to Avtar Gill (not his real name), under the RSE rules, contractors have the obligation to pay each such worker 28 weeks salary whether the worker has employment or not.

“This is a clear case of cheating and violation of the rules and regulations relating to Immigration. The Contractor has made more than $1 million from these hapless men. He and his accomplices should be brought to justice,” he said.

Indian Newslink will name the accused in an ensuing edition, after the concerned authorities have evaluated the allegations and decide on the future course of action.

Read It’s time to punish rogue employers under Viewlink.

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