Farm manager jailed over illegal workers

·2-min read

A man will spend five months behind bars for reaping more than $320,000 off the labour of illegal migrants paid as little as $14 an hour at a Victorian farm.

Sarith Kit was a manager at Vizzarri Farms at Koo Wee Rup, where 89 workers were found during a 2016 raid by police and border authorities.

Of those, 61 were in Australia illegally and 28 had visas that didn't let them work.

Women received $14 an hour and men $15 an hour at the vegetable farm. The award hourly rate at the time was more than $22.

Kit was fined $40,000 in Victoria's County Court on Monday and handed a 14-month jail term after pleading guilty to three charges of allowing unlawful non-citizens to work.

He also admitted one count each of allowing lawful non-citizens to work in breach of conditions and dealing with more than $320,000 that was the proceeds of crime.

The 48-year-old must spend five months in jail before he can be released on a recognisance release order for the remainder of his sentence.

Kit managed the farm's asparagus and broccolini processing shed and was considered second-in-charge to Giuseppe Vizzarri. He owned M&G Vizzarri, the company behind the farm.

Workers were recruited through word of mouth by farm drivers, who were themselves paid $19 an hour.

Recruits weren't asked if they could legally work in Australia and were charged $10 a day for transport to and from the farm.

Meanwhile, M&G Vizzarri paid two labour hire companies, STN Seven and V&T Golden, purportedly for the supply of farm workers.

There was no evidence either company did anything of the sort.

The money made its way to Kit, who handed migrants cash in envelopes and kept some for himself.

A total of $403,940 was found in the bedroom of his Keysborough home and also in a safe under the stairs. Of this, more than $320,000 was determined to be the proceeds of crime.

Charges over the farm scheme were dropped last year against Mr Vizzarri.