Dismissed: allegations of migrant exploitation against NZ company

'A high threshold needs to be met for criminal prosecution,' says INZ

Dismissed: allegations of migrant exploitation against NZ company

A company facing allegations of duping South American migrants into coming to New Zealand on fake job contracts as part of the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme has been found to have committed no criminal wrongdoing, according to a report from the New Zealand Herald.

Following a series of complaints, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) initiated a thorough investigation into the matter. The investigation encompassed interviews with complainants, extensive documentation review, and discussions with Buildhub representatives to ascertain their perspective on the allegations.

Despite the gravity of the accusations, INZ’s investigation resulted in the agency finding no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of Buildhub. This conclusion was communicated to complainants via email, said the Herald.

Migrant exploitation and other serious offences were considered during this investigation,” the letter said. “A high threshold needs to be met for criminal prosecution and, taking into account all the information and evidence available, the threshold for taking the matter further has not been reached.”

Limitations with MEPV visas

Dozens of Migrant Exploitation Protection Visas (MEPVs) linked to the company were issued to these workers, who claimed they were misled by Buildhub regarding job opportunities and working conditions.

James Friend, the national manager of immigration investigations for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, confirmed the investigation’s findings, noting the decision-making process is according to the law. “Immigration investigations look at criminal wrongdoing in accordance with the Immigration Act 2009,” he said.

Friend mentioned migrant workers linked to the company who have obtained exploitation visas will not have them revoked. However, he could provide limited insights into the matter, according to the publication.

The NZ Herald has reported that about 250 people from South American countries had arrived on work and visitor visas linked to Buildhub. Complaints from Chile and Colombia told the Herald they borrowed thousands of dollars to come to NZ after being promised construction jobs with high pay rates. However, since arriving, they found they had no jobs and others were offered far fewer working hours than promised.

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