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Immigration compliance operation cracks fraud racket.



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Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Immigration compliance operation cracks fraud racket

Tuesday, 11 March 2009

A major immigration compliance operation executed across three states early today has uncovered an alleged labour hire and identity fraud racket targeting the meat industry.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said that immigration officials, supported by the Australian Federal Police, state law enforcement and other government agencies, conducted a series of early morning raids on residential and business premises in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

‘The department’s investigators had received information from a number of sources about a labour hire intermediary who was allegedly bringing Chinese foreign workers into Australia to be employed in meatworks unlawfully,’ Senator Evans said.

‘There is also alleged identity fraud which we believe was widespread, coordinated and targeted the meat industry specifically.

‘The department believes up to 100 illegal workers are involved in the racket.’

As a result of today’s field operations, a person of interest who is believed to be the main organiser, has been identified and a large amount of evidence, including fraudulent passports, has been seized.

Further investigations into possible breaches of the Migration Act, Passports Act and criminal offences relating to identity fraud are continuing. Warrants were executed in Melbourne and Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Warrnambool, Scone, Kilcoy and Beenleigh.

So far, more than 30 people have been located working in breach of their visa conditions or not holding a valid visa. Immigration compliance officers are interviewing dozens of people of interest which could result in visa cancellations or notices of intent to cancel a visa. Most of the workers entered Australia legally on tourist or student visas.

Senator Evans said the immigration compliance operations highlighted a strong commitment to combating illegal workers and identity fraud.

‘This operation demonstrates that if people work illegally or if people employ illegal workers, they will be caught,’ Senator Evans said.

‘The Rudd Government is committed to maintaining the integrity of Australia’s visa program and locating people who are working illegally or overstaying their visas.’

Senator Evans said the operation was conducted with the support of the meatwork companies, which were unaware that labour hire firms were allegedly sourcing illegal workers.

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URL: http://www.minister.immi.gov.au /media/media-releases/2009/ce09027.htm Last update: 16 March 2009 at 10:50 AEST