Birthday wish for dishonesty offences accused granted

Last updated 12:45 10/12/2012

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Judge allows three people charged with a range of immigration crimes and perverting the course of justice to travel home to their native China for a birthday.

Three members of the same family, charged over a long-running Immigration New Zealand investigation into exploitation of migrant workers, were this morning remanded until next month.

The husband and wife, along with her sister, have been allowed to travel to China during the remand to attend a 60th birthday party.

The lawyer for the three family members, Barbara Hunt, said they were going to a party for the women’s mother in China, and it was agreed they could have their passports.

She explained that the birthday was culturally significant in China.

Chinese culture does not typically place much importance on birthdays, until a person reaches 60, which is seen as the end of a life cycle and the beginning of another.

The 60th birthday is the first to be celebrated by pomp and ceremony and a celebration is held for each decade following.

The trio is charged with perverting the course of justice, breach of immigration permits, supplying false information and misleading information, and exploiting people entitled to work.

All were granted interim name suppression by Wellington District Court judge Mike Behrens, QC.

Immigration prosecutor Saar Cohen-Ronen asked for an extensive list of bail conditions for each, including that they could leave the country if they informed the ministry when and where they were going and could not contact any witnesses.

He said the investigation had been into an immigration agency.

Hunt also asked for name suppression saying there would be hardship to the business and could also identify clients.

Lawyer for a second man, Kevin Smith, said his client was also going to be travelling, but would be back for his next court date.

The attendance of all was excused at the next hearing.

The other two men were remanded until the same day next month.

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