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Restaurateur falsified Indian chef's visa papers

india Updated: Nov 03, 2007 22:08 IST
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A Sydney restaurateur, who falsified immigration documents to bring an Indian chef to Australia, has been ordered to serve a suspended jail sentence, reports Australian Associated Press.

Yogalingam Rasalingam, a father of two who arrived in Australia from India in 1987, was ordered in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court on Friday to be of good behaviour for the next year or be jailed for four months and incur a $5,000 fine.

However, the 44-year-old restaurateur was acquitted of exploiting the 24-year-old chef, Anbalagan Rajendran, who hails from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu.

Judge Anthony Puckeridge said, "In relation to (the) second charge, you are convicted and I sentence you to a period of imprisonment of four months to date from (Friday)."

However, the Judge immediately released Rasalingam on the condition he be of good behaviour. He said: "I direct the offender enter into a reconnaissance to be of good behaviour for 12 months upon giving a surety of $5,000."

A jury found Rasalingam, who runs three restaurants at Faulconbridge, Glenbrook and Richmond in New South Wales, guilty of dishonestly influencing a commonwealth public official by forging the signature of chef Anbalagan Rajendran on visa papers.

During raids at the Star of India restaurant in western Sydney, immigration officers had found papers relating to Rajendran's visa application.

The papers, carrying the Indian chef's signature, showed he would be paid $40,000 a year to work a 38-hour week in Rasalingam's restaurants. Rajendran claims he had never seen the documents.

Earlier, Rajendran had told the court that he was put to work in the Blue Mountains restaurant almost immediately upon arriving in Sydney in June 2005. He worked 14 hours, six days a week and was paid only "$50 here, $20 there" and was warned that he would have to forfeit his first year's pay to refund the cost of his travel to Australia.

Rajendran also told the court that he was denied painkillers for a recent hernia operation, forced to sleep on the floor in the hallway and was told he could only bathe and keep his belongings in the backyard shed. He was so depressed by his working conditions that he swallowed poison. Rasalingam denied the charges.