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HIS employment contract specified he would earn $40,000 a year and work a 38-hour week as a cook in the Star of India restaurant in Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains.

But instead, a court heard yesterday that Anbalagan Rajendran had worked long hours as a kitchen hand, had had only two days off in six weeks, and had occasionally been given a $20 or $50 note as payment before police raided the restaurant and its owner's home in July last year.

The employment contract, the Crown alleged, had been sent to the Department of Immigration to secure a visa for Mr Anbalagan with his signature photocopied onto it by the restaurant's owner, Yogalingam Rasalingam. A piece of paper onto which Mr Anbalagan's signature had been written repeatedly was also found in a file at the restaurant, the court heard.

The Crown Prosecutor, Keith Chapple, SC, told the District Court that Rasalingam had exploited Mr Anbalagan by threatening him and causing him to enter into forced labour at his chain of restaurants.

Mr Anbalagan did not feel free to leave because Rasalingam had taken his passport. He feared that if he complained about his working conditions, he would be sent back to India, bringing shame and financial problems to his family, Mr Chapple said.

Rasalingam had applied on his behalf for a temporary visa, knowing he intended to have him working under conditions that bore no resemblance to those outlined in his employment contract.

Rasalingam is facing trial on two charges relating to submitting the allegedly false employment contract to the Immigration Department and being "reckless as to whether Mr Anbalagan would be exploited".

But Rasalingam's barrister, Peter McGrath, told the court his client had used an immigration lawyer who had filled in the visa application. He had told police that he had arranged to pay money to Mr Anbalagan's father in India. He said he had taken the passport so he could apply for a tax file number for his employee.

Mr McGrath said the reason Mr Anbalagan did not want to leave was "because he could assist his family by earning money, because that's what he was doing".

 
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