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Migrant Exploitation Ringleader Sentenced To Home Detention

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Jafar Kurisi, also known as Ali or Tauranga Ali, has avoided prison, receiving instead a 12-month home detention sentence and an order to pay $80,000 to his victims for his role in exploiting migrant workers, Stuff reported.

Kurisi, 60, was charged in late 2020 following numerous complaints about the mistreatment of migrant workers in the kiwifruit and horticultural industry. Investigations led to searches of five homes in Tauranga, during which 27 individuals from Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and Bangladesh were interviewed about their immigration and employment status in New Zealand.

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Kurisi was found to have unlawfully employed migrants on visitor visas, continuing to do so even after their visas had expired. He pleaded guilty to exploiting multiple migrants and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

During the sentencing, two of Kurisi’s victims recounted the financial and emotional harm they endured, including withheld pay and being forced to sleep on the ground in a garage. They revealed they were paid between $12-$15 per hour, well below the New Zealand minimum wage of $18.90 at the time, and were not compensated for all hours worked.

“They remained in New Zealand to see this through and can now put this chapter behind them, and finally return home knowing that Kurisi has been held to account,” Stuff quoted MBIE spokesperson Steve Watson.

This is not Kurisi’s first encounter with the law for worker exploitation. In 2017, he was sentenced on charges related to a human trafficking case involving 13 workers not entitled to work in New Zealand.

Steve Watson, Immigration Compliance and Investigations General Manager, expressed gratitude to the investigation team and other cooperating agencies, including the Labour Inspectorate, Tenancy Services, New Zealand Police, and Zespri. He hopes this sentencing will serve as a strong deterrent for future offences.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the involvement of our Labour Inspectorate, Tenancy Services, New Zealand Police colleagues and to Zespri for their cooperation. I am also very proud of our investigation team who worked tirelessly to bring this matter to court,” said Watson.

Kurisi’s sentence was reduced due to his early guilty plea, reparation payment, as well as his ill health and age.

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