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ATO acts against foreign worker exploitation

The multi-agency operation found documents that allegedly showed the employment of unlawful non-citizens.


In a joint operation with several agencies, the ATO has cracked down on foreign worker exploitation after a raid at an ACT home uncovered identity documents and cash. 

The operation was run by the Australian Border Force and the ATO as part of the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) with assistance from ACT policing, the AFP, and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC). 

The SFCT targets individuals and businesses suspected of using illegal debt evasion within the construction industry. 

The search warrant was executed at the ACT property and revealed identity and financial documents which allegedly showed the employment of unlawful non-citizens and exploitation of foreign workers, along with $82,000 in cash. 

ATO deputy commissioner and SFCT chief John Ford said individuals who take part in financial crime activities were often complicit in larger unlawful actions. 

“These criminals are motivated by financial gain and their activities rob the Australian public of revenue to support essential services such as health and education,” said Mr Ford. 

“This action demonstrates that the SFCT agencies will work together on operational activity that will ultimately bring criminals to account.” 

ABF commander of special investigations Penny Spies said the action sent a clear method that the organisation would continue to work side by side to stamp out the illegal practices. 

“Dishonest employers in the construction industry often pay workers in cash, meaning employees miss out on entitlements including superannuation,” said Ms Spies. “All workers deserve fair pay and fair treatment.” 

“We will continue to disrupt those who seek to exploit foreign workers here in Australia and they will be brought to justice.” 

“We will continue to target criminals who want to profit by engaging in visa and migration fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and foreign worker exploitation.” 

ACT policing criminal investigations detective Matt Innes said joint operations such as the one carried out had continued to prove effective. 

“The information sharing and joint response activity seen in this operation has once again disrupted those who seek to profit from illegal activities they consider victimless,” said Mr Innes. 

“The reality is that the workers and the Australian people through unpaid taxation are the victims when this time of illegal activity occurs.”




Josh Needs
31 May 2023

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