54 people have been deported from New Zealand as part of an Immigration New Zealand operation across Auckland to tackle illegal workers, identity fraud and people smuggling in the construction industry.
So far, Operation Spectrum which was underway for six months has resulted in 54 Malaysian nationals being deported. In addition, a further 36 people chose to self-deport in order to avoid apprehension and detection. A total of 85 people were refused entry to New Zealand or denied boarding.
Another person was arrested at his home on Tuesday on a charge related to identity fraud. He has been bailed to appear in the Auckland District Court on Friday (tomorrow).
Immigration New Zealand says over the course of the operation it discovered that Malaysian workers were being recruited via social media to work in the construction sector in New Zealand. Once in New Zealand workers were paid in cash, paid no tax, and many would remain here unlawfully after their visa had expired, or would use the services of a particular Licensed Immigration Advisor to renew their visas.
After having his license revoked by the Immigration Advisors Authority, the LIA is due to appear in court in March this year on charges of providing false information to INZ.
Immigration New Zealand says 15 of the people who were deported or left New Zealand voluntarily for being overstayers changed their identities in Malaysia and returned back to New Zealand. One of those men, Adam Abdullah, was sentenced to 10 months home detention on 19 February this year for the immigration fraud.
NZ Area Manager Alistair Murray says that the arrests and prosecutions are a result of a joint investigation involving agencies such as the Royal Malaysian Police, Inland Revenue, New Zealand Police and the Australian Border Force.
"We believe that this operation has struck at the heart of an illegal network that has been abusing the immigration system. This case demonstrates that we will leave no stone unturned to bring criminals who flout the system to justice.
Any allegations of people smuggling and immigration fraud are taken seriously and will be fully investigated- it’s a serious crime and ruins people’s lives. I hope the ongoing outcomes of this operation sends a clear message to others considering doing the same- act within the law or you will find yourself in court,” he says.