Venkat Raman –
The Auckland High Court sentenced on April 14 a woman to 27 months in prison after she was found guilty of five offences relating to immigration fraud.
Naengnoi Sriphet, a Thai national holding New Zealand citizenship, was accused of having committed offences contravening provisions of the Immigration Act 2009.
The Court heard that she had recruited and employed two workers from Thailand to work as massage therapists, under the ‘Essential Skills’ work policy of Immigration New Zealand (INZ).
This was the second such offence committed by the defendant.
According to INZ, in order to obtain the relevant visa under the policy, prospective employees of Sriphet were required to show that they had appropriate qualifications and experience as Thai massage therapists.
In addition, Sriphet was required to satisfy INZ that the job offer was for genuine, sustainable and full-time employment.
Based on suspicion, INZ officials investigated Sriphet and found that she had provided her employees with employment Agreements in Thai, which were significantly different to the Agreements she had provided to INZ in support of the visa applications.
The officials also found that the Thai employment Agreements did not meet the requirements of New Zealand Employment Law.
Both employees worked for Sriphet in accordance with the Thai employment Agreements, which stipulated that they live at her work premises.
The Agreements included provisions for fining the employees if they gossiped about Sriphet, damaged her reputation, or failed to keep the premises clean.
Earlier this year, Sriphet was found guilty of four charges of providing false or misleading information to INZ; specifically the provision of false employment Agreements and offer of employment letters to the two employees.
She was also found guilty of one charge of aiding or inciting one of the employees to breach the conditions of her visa, by encouraging and facilitating her to work as a prostitute.
INZ Area Manager Alistair Murray said that the verdict showed the seriousness with which the Department viewed such offences.
“The judgment sends a strong message to employers who may be tempted to undertake this type of fraud and exploitation,” he said.
The Prostitution Reform Act 2003 makes it a condition of every temporary visa, regardless of the type issued, that the holder may not work in the sex industry.