Aussie authorities arrest 34 Malaysians for working illegally

SYDNEY — Australian authorities have arrested 34 Malaysian nationals for working illegally in Australia’s agriculture sector following targeted raids on the country’s east coast.

Following information from the community, authorities on Tuesday raided a labor hire syndicate alleged to be employing illegal foreign workers near Coffs Harbor on the New South Wales mid-north coast, finding 14 nationals were in Australia illegally, while 20 others were exploiting their temporary stay visas.

“Yesterday’s operation sends a strong message to individuals and syndicates involved; if you are in Australia without a valid visa, if you work in breach of your visa conditions or if you are exploiting foreign workers, you will be caught,” Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

The raids form part of an ongoing multi-agency task force investigating visa fraud and illegal work that so far has resulted in the arrest of three people and the detention of 95 illegal workers.

Anyone convicted in Australia for facilitating visa fraud and illegal work faces up to 20 years imprisonment or fines up to 100,000 Australian dollars (USD75,985).

Employers involved in the exploitation of foreign workers face civil penalties of 10,800 Australian dollars (USD8,207) per breach, while corporations face 54,000 Australian dollars (USD41,033) per breach.

All 34 are currently being detained in an immigration detention facility awaiting deportation. PNA/Xinhua/