Business, Crime

Restaurant boss’s wage cheat costs thousands

Subash Raizada must pay three former staff an ERA hearing has found. Photo: Supplied.

The owner of an Indian restaurant who tried to cheat staff out of wages has been ordered to pay them nearly $60,000.

Blenheim man Subash Raizada, 57, also known as Roger Raizada, owns Maharajah India Ltd.

Staff accused him of harassment and trying to pressure them to hand over money or risk their immigration status.

The Employment Relations Authority found in favour of three former employees, Vibha Sood, Kulijeet Kaur and Akshay Dame.

The announcement come as it was revealed the business was to be struck off the Register of Companies.

In his findings, chief of the Employment Relations Authority James Crichton says the company, of which Raizada was sole director, owed the trio money.

“I am satisfied that Maharaja India Limited owes a total sum of $59,390.47 in respect to minimum wages and holiday pay for the credit of three employees, namely Ms Vibha Sood, Ms Kuljeet Kaur and Mr Akshay Dame”.

Raizada’s son bought the Seymour St restaurant in 2015, changing it to Raizada Indian Restaurant.

An Employment Relations Authority (ERA) hearing in Blenheim in May was told how a labour inspectorate began an investigation in March 2015.

Staff claimed several incidents where they had been underpaid or not paid at all.

Kaur revealed she was told by Raizada that her visa was dependant on him and that she should pay him $35,000.

Dame did a week’s work with Raizada, as a trial. In a statement Raizada told him he would need to pay $35,000 if he wanted the manager’s position. Dame turned him down.

Raizada responded by saying the staff had never worked for him and accused them of fraud.

“But those stories simply are not credible,” Crighton says.

“Mr Raizada’s position appeared to be that none of these folk actually worked for the company and that the documents were simply structured to suggest that they had worked there.

“Ms Sood gave evidence that she had to pay back wages to the employer after she had been paid them.

“The evidence from Ms Sood’s bank account quite clearly supports her testimony that she was paid wages and then was required to rebate some of that payment either back to Mr Raizada or to another employee who then provided that sum to Mr Raizada,” he wrote.

Raizada was convicted in the Blenheim District Court on representative charges following guilty pleas to offences under the Immigration Act 2009 and the Crimes Act 1961 in February 2019.

He was ordered to pay $5000 to Kaur in part recompense of her managerial services and complete 80 hours of community service.

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