A Nando’s restaurant owner in Australia is facing 22 charges for illegally employing foreign students.
The students had worked illegally in Anni Kartawidjajaâ€™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.
â€œMore than 90 charges are expected to be laid as a result of an Immigration-led investigation,â€ 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 Nandoâ€™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.
â€œIt is imperative that employers understand they may be penalised for compromising the integrity of visa programs,â€ the spokesman said. â€œThe departmentâ€™s focus is to address the actions of businesses that willfully take part in illegal work â€“ not to penalize businesses which act in good faith.â€
Evidence obtained during the investigation indicates that key management staff were told to turn a blind eye to the illegal workers.Â If convicted under the Migration Act, Anni and her associates could face up to 12 monthsâ€™ 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.
â€œIt has been a criminal offence to hire illegal workers since 2007 â€“ an offence that carries substantial penalties including prison terms,â€ the spokesman said.
More information about the revised laws is available online.