Businessman accused of bilking Filipino workers pleads guilty in Halifax court

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A Halifax businessman stood in court Tuesday to admit submitting false records to immigration authorities, a moment of vindication for the Filipino temporary workers whom he had allegedly underpaid.

“We’re very happy that after almost five years, he said it,” Jason Sta. Juana, 38, said in an interview outside Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Sta. Juana is among the several dozen temporary workers — many of whom attended court Tuesday — who assisted investigators from the Canada Border Services Agency in probing the employment practices of 55-year-old Hector Mantolino.

The businessman offered his guilty plea to misrepresentation under provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for “false information regarding the employment” of Sta. Juana and at least 25 other workers listed on the federal indictment.

The operator of Mantolino Property Services Ltd. was originally charged in June 2013 with 56 counts of immigration fraud following a Canada Border Services Agency investigation. Those charges were rolled into a single indictment in Tuesday’s hearing.

Mantolino was accused by the federal Crown of advising foreign workers to provide misleading and untruthful statements on their work permit applications between July 2010 and April 2013.

He was alleged to have counseled the workers to lie about their wages if they wanted to stay in Canada — with some saying in court documents they were working for as little as $3.13 per hour.

Justice Glen McDougall asked that a full statement of the facts by the Crown and the defense be prepared prior to a March 13 sentencing hearing.

Outside of court, defense lawyer Lee Cohen said the plea means his client is acknowledging some misrepresentations.

He said his client has admitted to providing false information on so-called “labour market opinion” documents. The federal forms require employers to indicate what workers will be paid and that the pay is at the same level as provided to Canadians in the same jurisdiction and field.

Read the full story over at 680 News.

This story was summarized by Canadian Fraud News Inc.