Police have seized $8.5 million worth of assets, including a 2014 Ferrari, a 2015 Range Rover, six properties and $180,000 in cash; and arrested and charged three men with a series of offences relating to an alleged immigration racket involving Australia Post delivery drivers.
The raids across Melbourne yesterday led to the arrest of Baljit ‘Bobby’ Singh, Rakesh Kumar and Mukesh Sharma who now face charges of “defrauding the Commonwealth and falsifying documents including police checks and student records, in relation to two training colleges.”
“The AFP alleges St Stephen Institute of Technology, owned by Singh and Kumar, and Symbiosis Institute of Technical Education, owned by Sharma, are not providing education, but are in fact being used to source student visas for Indian students who then go to work as posties and parcel deliverers for Australia Post through Singh’s labour hire companies. The colleges charge international students fees of up to $10,000 despite allegedly not providing any training,” said the ABC report.
The AFP estimates that students were charged over $9 million in fees while the colleges claimed approximately $2 million in government funding because of their Registered Training Organisation status.
Australia Post management has been implicated and under questioning for contracting the company which apparently had ‘at least a hundred workers…about 60 of them being on student visas’ according to Joan Doyle, Victorian secretary of the posties’ union the CEPU. The company had 16 Auspost contracts, four of which the ABC estimates to be worth $60,000 a month.
The ABC reported that Australia Post has been previously warned about Mr Singh’s alleged underpayment of workers and use of student labour by the union for a number of years, although the company insisted that until now it had no evidence of significant wrongdoing.
Joan Doyle said the arrests raised questions about how Australia Post is monitoring its contractors and how Government money is being spent.
Following a series of stories by ABC’s 7.30 about underpayment of subcontracted delivery drivers by other labour hire companies, Australia Post announced it had broadened a compliance program for delivery contractors to include spot audits.
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