Vic farm manager exploited illegal workers

·1-min read

A Victorian man faces jail time for exploiting dozens of illegal and underpaid workers at a vegetable farm.

Sarith Kit was second-in-charge at an asparagus and broccolini processing shed at Koo Wee Rup, in the state's southeast.

It was found to be exploiting 89 illegal workers when authorities raided the property in December 2016.

Kit, 48, pleaded guilty in Victoria's County Court on Monday to three counts 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 the proceeds of crime.

Prosecutor Nick Robinson said Kit had control and oversight of the day-to-day operations within the packing sheds.

The workers saw him as the "boss", subject only to the owner, Giuseppe Vizzarri, Mr Robinson said.

As federal police and border officials raided the farm, $403,940 was discovered at Kit's Keysborough home in Melbourne's southeast.

Acting for Kit, lawyer Simon Moglia said most of that money, $300,000 found in a safe under a staircase, belonged to Mr Vizzarri.

The rest of the money was effectively a float used to pay the workers, Mr Moglia said.

Charges were last year dropped against Mr Vizzarri.

Men at the packing shed were paid $15 per hour and women $14 per hour. The award rate at the time was $22.13 per hour.

Judge Greg Lyon granted Kit continued bail but warned he would "in all likelihood" be sent to prison.

Kit will be sentenced at a later date.