Diveye Kumar Trivedi, owner of Mand’s Indian Restaurant in Eastwood, in Sydney’s northwest, was ordered to pay almost $200,000 for what the judge labelled a ‘grotesque abuse’ of Australia’s 457 visa program.
Divye Kumar Trivedi made an illiterate Indian cook, who was trafficked to Australia and forced to slave 12 hours a day, seven days a week until he alerted the police.
The cook Dulo Ram was recruited by this restaurant owner through the 457 Visa program . The Owner took the passport from Dulo Ram soon after his arrival. Dulo Ram was told, he could not leave Australia until he had repaid the $7000 debt which Mr Trivedi had incurred in bringing him to Sydney. Mr Dulo Ram who does not speak English had worked for 16 months, from August 2007 to December 2008, with only one day off on Christmas Day. Mr Ram was provided with accommodation in the Restaurant store room and washed and bathed in the Kitchen using buckets of hot water.
Justice Driver found that Divye Kumar Trivedi, the owner of Mand’s Indian Restaurant in Eastwood, in Sydney’s northwest, had “built a facade upon sham documents to deceive the Department of Immigration and the ATO and attempted to deceive this court”.
The case revealed a “grotesque abuse” of the nation’s temporary skilled migration program and raised broader questions about the system’s administration, Federal Circuit Court judge Rolf Driver said.
The Restaurant owner’s argument that he provided accommodation for the cook in his own home was not taken by the court. Instead, the judge found Trivedi had falsified time records, pay slips and information provided to the tax office and Immigration Department, and that he withdrew the money he had supposedly paid into Mr Ram’s bank account.
Eventually Dulo Ram complained to the Fair Work Ombudsman, but it did not sustain the complain because it relied on the time and wage records provided by Trivedi and could not identify any underpayment. But an investigation by Department of Immigration could unearth the fabricated documents by Mr Trivedi.
Justice Driver ordered Trivedi to pay $186,000 to Mr Ram in back-pay, entitlements and interest. He could also face penalties under the Fair Work Act. Trivedi had earlier escaped with a $1000 fine and 250 hours of community service after pleading guilty to trafficking offences in 2011.
This successful case follows 3 years of pro bono representation of Mr Ram by Clayton Utz, and pro bono representation by barristers Yaseen Shariff and Jocelyn Williams. The case was referred to the Clayton Utz Pro Bono practice by Anti-Slavery Australia, a specialist legal research and policy centre focused on the abolition of slavery, trafficking and extreme labour exploitation.
Diveye Trivedi’s Previous brush with law was on 2012 for labour trafficking
Diveye Trivedi (2012) – charges relating to labour trafficking
On 6 October 2011, Mr Diveye Trivedi pleaded guilty to one count of people trafficking (s 271.2(1B) of Criminal Code).
Between 2007 and 2008, Mr Trivedi organised the travel of an Indian male to Australia in order to work as a chef in one of his Indian restaurants. Upon arrival, the man was subjected to exploitative conditions which included: being forced to live and bathe at the restaurant and work an average of 12 hours a day, seven days a week for minimal pay; being consistently abused, both physically and mentally; and receiving threats against his person and his family.
On 8 May 2012, Mr Trivedi was sentenced to 250 hours’ community service and a fine of $1,000.
To date this is the only conviction for labour trafficking in Australia.