Faroz Ali exploited vulnerable workers from Fiji. He will now be freed after serving only a third of his nine-and-a-half year prison sentence.
A man who promised migrant workers everything, only to rip them off, has been freed from prison after serving just a third of his sentence.
Faroz Ali, also known as Feroz Ali, was the first person in New Zealand to be sentenced for human trafficking when he was jailed for nine and-a-half years in December 2016.
However, three years on, the Parole Board has decided to release him into the community.
Ali was at the head of an immigrant worker scheme that placed advertisements in a Fijian newspaper, promising good wages in New Zealand to work in the orchard and construction sectors.
Instead, workers arrived on visitor visas and worked illegally.
Ali’s underground organisation charged them rent, board and fees and many eventually returned to Fiji worse off than they were before they left, owing friends and family money.
Peter Mihaere from the organisation Stand Against Slavery described the Parole Board’s decision as “gutting”.
He said he was concerned what kind of message that sent to the wider community.
“I’d say the people involved, being trafficked into New Zealand, would be pretty devastated.”
Mihaere said those affected by Ali were likely to be still trying to rebuild their lives.
“They’re still a long way from retaining their mana in the village.”
At Ali’s 2016 trial, Crown prosecutor Luke Clancy told jurors of the damage Ali had done.
“Most workers who were hooked into this scam were poor people living in difficult circumstances,” he said.
“Instead of having this opportunity to work and make money [and] provide for their futures, they were exploited, left with nothing and had to return to Fiji ashamed … that they had been misled, deceived and ripped off.”
At Ali’s sentencing, Justice Paul Heath described human trafficking as an “abhorrent” crime.
“It is a crime against human dignity. It undermines the respect that all of us should have for the human rights and the autonomy of individual people.
“Such conduct degrades human life. It is a crime that should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
After serving three years in prison, the Parole Board believed Ali no longer posed a risk to the community.
The board noted Ali had completed courses while in prison and there had been no issues with his behaviour.
Ali’s lawyer, Shayne Lawrey, told the board his client had support in the community and a strong work ethic.
The board’s decision said initially, Ali did not believe he had exploited the workers.
“He preferred to think that he was helping people from Fiji.”
However, the board said since completing a rehabilitation programme, Ali had a better understanding of his actions.
“Now that he is able to look at the wider picture he is clear that what he did was wrong, and he will have no part in that sort of activity.”
Ali told the board he intended to work as a taxi driver when he was released.