A Filipino woman has been fined $10,000 and ordered to pay $5000 in emotional harm to five migrant workers who were overworked and underpaid at her sushi restaurants.

Rosanna Imai and her company, Imai Japanese Food Service Ltd, were sentenced at Auckland District Court today for collectively underpaying the staff $55,000.

Each of the Filipino workers were recruited to come to New Zealand and work as Japanese chefs and sushi cooks.

As well as being underpaid, they were also forced to work more than 60 hours per week.


Imai was sentenced on seven charges under the Immigration Act relating to providing false and misleading information to an immigration officer and not paying the minimum wage.

Her company was sentenced on two charges under the Immigration Act for not paying the minimum wage. It was also fined $5000.

The migrant workers have been paid compensation. They all have current work visas for working at other employers.

Immigration New Zealand general manager Peter Devoy said it didn't tolerate employers who exploited migrant workers.

"The overriding principle is that migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand," he said.

"We will not tolerate employers who exploit migrant labour for their own commercial advantage and will not hesitate to prosecute in cases where warranted."

Devoy encouraged anyone forced to work in New Zealand illegally for less than the minimum wage or for excessive hours to contact Immigration NZ.

People could also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.