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Alleged people trafficker pleads guilty

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/08/2016

A man accused of trafficking more than a dozen people into the country has admitted to not paying illegal workers the minimum wage.

Feroz Ali, 46, is standing trial at the High Court in Auckland facing 15 charges of people trafficking and 16 others for helping people illegally get into, or stay in, the country.

The Crown alleges between 2013 and 2015, Ali, a Fijian national who holds New Zealand residency, charged the people he illegally brought into the country money for the opportunity to work in New Zealand and that the migrants were subjected to exploitative working conditions.

But at the start of his trial on Monday, Ali pleaded guilty to 18 charges of not paying illegal workers the minimum wage or holiday pay along with eight other charges of helping people breach their visa conditions.

He will still stand trial on the people trafficking charges.

Earlier on Monday, a jury of four men and eight women was selected for the trial.

The case is only the second time Immigration New Zealand has brought people trafficking charges, and the government was criticised in a 2014 US Department of State report for not bringing enough prosecutions.

The prosecution will make its opening statement this afternoon.

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