13 May 2010

Four on trial over employment of overstayers

2:41 pm on 13 May 2010

A trial has begun of four Hawke's Bay businessmen charged with conspiring to assist overstayers and ship jumpers to live and work illegally in New Zealand.

The men were arrested in December 2006 following a Department of Labour investigation of some horticultural employers in Hawkes Bay and the Nelson-Marlborough regions.

At the time, three of the accused were directors of Contract Labour Services Limited which employed hundreds of workers on orchards and vineyards all over New Zealand.

Prosecutor Clayton Walker told the Hastings District Court the Crown case is that the accused Michael Porter, Miles Elliot, Dharminder Singh and his father Surjit Singh, knowingly used illegal labour in their business.

He says the Crown will provide evidence the four tried to cover up their actions by operating two sets of accounts - one for legally employed workers, the other for illegals.

Mr Walker says 35 witnesses will give evidence ranging from illegal workers to Contract Labour Services managers who he says were aware of the illegal activity, and office staff who wrote out false invoices.