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54 people deported as part of Immigration New Zealand operation Tuesday, 27 February 2018

A total of 54 people have been deported from New Zealand as part of an Immigration New Zealand (INZ) 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 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.

A further person was arrested at his home today on a charge related to identity fraud. He has been bailed to appear in the Auckland District Court this Friday.

Over the course of the operation, INZ 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 (LIA) 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.

Fifteen of those 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 the 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.”

Anyone with information on people smuggling or immigration fraud should contact Immigration New Zealand or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Notes to Editors:

  • Operation Spectrum was underway for six months from May 2017
  • Out of the 54 Malaysian nationals that were detained  and deported a further 36 self-deported in order to avoid apprehension and detection
  • The LIA who was arrested and charged will appear in court in March this year
  • The agencies involved in the operation included the Royal Malaysian Police, Inland Revenue, New Zealand Police the Australian Border Force, Department of Internal Affairs and wider Ministry of Business, innovation and Employment groups, including the IAA, Labour Inspectorate and Companies Office
  • A number of companies were investigated for employing unlawful Malaysian workers. As a result, five prosecutions have been completed and/or are pending against companies where there is New Zealand based director.  Court action completed against one company has seen a fine of $6000 imposed for employing unlawful workers. 

For further information contact 0274 422 141 or email:

media@mbie.govt.nz