Head of Masala restaurant chain Joti Jain leaves country
One of the bosses of an Indian restaurant chain which exploited its workers has skipped the country ahead of an appeal against her deportation.
Joti Jain was sentenced to 11 months home detention, 220 hours of community work and ordered to pay $58,000 in reparations in 2015 after admitting a raft of immigration and exploitation charges relating to workers at Masala restaurants in Mission Bay, Takapuna and Bucklands Beach in Auckland.
Workers had been paid as little as $3 an hour.
Jain, who served her home detention at her $2.75m home in Remuera, had appealed Immigration New Zealand's decision to deport her.
A hearing before the Immigration and Protection Tribunal was to have been heard this week, but Immigration NZ confirmed she left New Zealand on Wednesday.
Her appeal was deemed to have been withdrawn and her residence visa was cancelled.
"As a result Ms Jain is now banned from returning to New Zealand," a spokesperson said.
Last year Jain was found in contempt of court for hiding documents from liquidators of Masala-related companies and was fined $5000.
Liquidator Damien Grant said he'd been told the immigration case against Jain was over because she'd "self deported".
"I don't think it's a loss to New Zealand if she's gone and I think she's done the taxpayer a massive favour by leaving of her own accord.
"Because they didn't pay their taxes they were able to provide exceptionally cheap food at a price the competition couldn't match."
Grant said Jain tried to blame everything on a co-offender but he never doubted she played a pivotal role.
"She said 'I was just a patsy' - I never believed that. From my dealings with her she was cold, utterly ruthless and determined - a nasty piece of work."
Jain's victims, four Indian and Indian-Fijian nationals, were promised visas in exchange for their work, but were paid less than minimum wage and went weeks without any pay at all.
One had no visa and was working in the country illegally.
In a victim impact statement read by Judge Anne Kiernan, one described working at Masala as "hell".
According to a summary of facts, Bucklands Beach Masala worker Gagandeep Singh worked 11 hours a day, six days a week but was only paid $250 a week.
Another waitress at Masala Takapuna, named only as Robin, worked 11 hours a day, six days a week and was paid $201.51 per week, equating to $3 per hour.
- Sunday Star Times