A Nando’s restaurant owner in Australia is facing 22 charges for illegally employing foreign students.
The students had worked illegally in Anni Kartawidjaja’s Melbourne stores over a two-and-a-half-year period. Five of Anni’s employees have also been charged over their involvement in the scam, according to Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
“More than 90 charges are expected to be laid as a result of an Immigration-led investigation,” a Department spokesman said.
Anni allegedly organised Indonesian nationals to travel to Australia on student visas to work in breach of their visa conditions at her Nando’s restaurants and other grocery stores. Most of the illegal workers allegedly lived at her properties while paying rent, internet, telephone and heating bills to Anni, often as salary deductions.
“It is imperative that employers understand they may be penalised for compromising the integrity of visa programs,” the spokesman said. “The department’s focus is to address the actions of businesses that willfully take part in illegal work – not to penalize businesses which act in good faith.”
Evidence obtained during the investigation indicates that key management staff were told to turn a blind eye to the illegal workers. If convicted under the Migration Act, Anni and her associates could face up to 12 months’ imprisonment for each charge. Where the department becomes aware of fraud, these matters are fully investigated and can result in both criminal and administrative penalties, a media statement from the Department said.
“It has been a criminal offence to hire illegal workers since 2007 – an offence that carries substantial penalties including prison terms,” the spokesman said.
More information about the revised laws is available online.