Market gardener serious flight risk
Market gardener 'serious flight risk'

A Carabooda market gardener at the centre of an alleged illegal worker racket was yesterday described as a "significant flight risk" after he asked for permission to travel to Vietnam.

Michael Le appeared in Perth Magistrate's Court, where he requested his bail conditions be changed to allow him to fly overseas for business.

The Director of Public Prosecutions opposed the change, despite Mr Le vowing to return to Perth to face a string of charges.

Mr Le and his brother Canh were charged with money laundering and harbouring unlawful non-citizens after a multi-agency raid on their Carabooda compound in May.

Police allege the pair ran a criminal empire through their business interests in primary produce, construction and the entertainment industry.

Mr Le's lawyer Laurie Levy yesterday revealed the brothers had lost a $7.2 million Woolworths contract and a $3 million IGA contract after they were arrested and charged.

He told the court Mr Le needed to travel to Vietnam to address problems with construction and export arms of their business empire.

Mr Levy said his client had "enormous incentive" to return to WA because his company was building a $12 million medical centre in Karrinyup and owned farmland valued at $32 million.

"We say he has more incentive to fight the charges than to flee, given the extent of the assets that are at stake," Mr Levy said.

Mr Le was born in Vietnam and became an Australian after migrating to Perth in the early 1980s.

The court was told his Korean-born wife was currently living overseas with their two children.

Prosecutor Sarah Oliver said Mr Le had strong ties outside Australia and could easily live overseas for an extended period.

She said Mr Le was facing a long term of imprisonment if he was convicted of the charges.

Ms Oliver asked Magistrate Colin Roberts to adjourn the case to allow her to investigate the ownership of the medical centre and farmland.

The hearing was adjourned until next week.

The West Australian

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