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27 months’ imprisonment for immigration offences Tuesday, 14 April 2015

An Auckland woman has been sentenced in Auckland District Court this morning to a total of 27 months’ imprisonment after being found guilty of five offences under the Immigration Act 2009.

Naengnoi Sriphet, a Thai national who holds New Zealand citizenship, recruited and employed two workers from Thailand to work as massage therapists, under Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ’s) “Essential Skills” work policy.

In order for her workers to be granted visas under this policy, Sriphet’s prospective employees were required to show that they had appropriate qualifications and experience as Thai massage therapists. In addition, Sriphet was required to satisfy INZ that the job offer was for genuine, sustainable and full-time employment.

In the course of an investigation into Sriphet, INZ discovered that she had provided her employees with employment agreements in Thai, which were significantly different to the agreements she had provided to INZ in support of the visa applications. The Thai employment agreements also did not meet the requirements of New Zealand employment law.

Both employees worked for Sriphet in accordance with the Thai employment agreements, which stipulated that the employees live at Sriphet’s work premises and included provisions for fining the employees if they gossiped about Sriphet, damaged Sriphet’s reputation, or failed to keep the premises clean.

Sriphet was earlier this year found guilty of four charges of providing false or misleading information to INZ – specifically, the provision of false employment agreements and offer of employment letters to the two employees. Sriphet was also found guilty of one charge of aiding or inciting one of the employees to breach the conditions of her visa, by encouraging and facilitating her to work as a prostitute.

“The sentence imposed on Sriphet by the Court today shows just how seriously this type of offending is taken, and sends a strong message to any other employer tempted to undertake this type of fraud and exploitation,” says Alistair Murray, INZ Area Manager.

Note: The Prostitution Reform Act 2003 makes it a condition of every temporary visa (regardless of type) that the holder may not work in the sex industry.