Marlborough Express

Detention for labour directors

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Two Indonesian men who helped other Indonesian­s stay and work illegally in the horticultu­re industry in Blenheim have been sentenced to home detention.

Johnny Ake, 51, of Blenheim, and Bernadi, 29, were both sentenced to seven months’ home detention and 100 hours’ community work, and fined $2000 when they appeared at the Blenheim District Court on Tuesday.

The pair each faced 12 charges each of aiding a person to unlawfully stay in New Zealand and 12 charges of allowing a person to breach the conditions of a permit.

Judge Bruce Davidson said the pair were directors of a labour company which contracted to the horticultu­re industry and arranged for 16 Indonesian people to work in the industry illegally over three years.

Some had false passports and others had left their jobs on fishing boats. None of the workers were entitled to work in the horticultu­re industry, he said.

The pair received upfront payments of US$500 (NZ$696) from some of the workers, and took a 15 per cent cut of their wages as commission. They also took about 20 per cent from their wages for tax reasons, but none had been properly registered to pay tax, he said.

The two men owe Inland Revenue $50,000, as a result of the scheme, he said.

Defence counsel for Ake Rob Harrison said Ake did not realise the criminalit­y of what he was doing and just wanted to help his people from the Indonesian community.

Bernadi’s defence lawyer, Bryony Millar, offered a similar explanatio­n for her client and said he was granted New Zealand residency in 2004.

Some of the charges both men faced were doubled up because the charges related to 16 different people, she said.

Bernadi could raise about $10,000 by the end of the pruning season to help pay back the debt to the Inland Revenue Department, she said.

Judge Davidson said both men had altruistic motives and wanted their people to have a decent job which would allow them to send some money home.

The scheme was well organised and premeditat­ed, but the pair had decent motives, he said.

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