A Perth man was convicted and fined today in the Perth Magistrates Court for migration fraud and illegally supplying foreign workers to WA businesses.
Today’s conviction is the first successful contested prosecution under the existing employer sanctions legislation and serves as a strong warning to businesses and labour agencies considering employing people without the right to work.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) welcomed the guilty verdicts on two counts of providing false information and two offences of supplying non-citizens to work in breach of visa conditions. The man, who had no previous criminal convictions, was fined $7000.“It is a serious offence for employers and labour suppliers to allow or refer illegal workers to perform work. The conviction and sentencing of this employment agent is a strong deterrent message to those thinking of doing the wrong thing,” a departmental spokesman said.
The investigation into the man was sparked by an allegation received from a local small business owner regarding a sponsorship application in their name for a visa holder they had not sought to employ.
Departmental investigators found the man was operating an employment agency to facilitate the recruitment and entry into Australia of Philippine nationals to fill employment vacancies within WA, typically in trades. The man would scout advertised vacancies in local newspapers, contact the employer and offer his services to fill the positions with qualified overseas employees.
The offences of which he was found guilty related to recklessly supplying workers without the appropriate visas or work rights, and also fraudulently altering application documents to include extra visa holders, without the knowledge of the sponsor.
Under existing laws, employers convicted under Commonwealth legislation of having illegal workers face maximum fines of up to $13 200 and two years’ imprisonment while companies face fines of up to $66 000 per illegal worker.
The Australian Government announced last month that it would overhaul penalties for hiring illegal workers to allow better enforcement of the current law, following an independent review of the employer sanctions laws. The recommendations, which have been accepted in-principle ahead of stakeholder consultation, include the introduction of a range of civil penalties and broader powers for DIAC investigators.
The full report of the 2010 Howells Review of Employer Sanctions is available at www.immi.gov.au/managing-australias-borders/compliance/working-legally/
People with information about illegal workers or visa overstayers are encouraged to call the Immigration Dob-In Line on 1800 009 623.