Local citrus manager charged after border force investigation: Labour probe

The manager of a major Gol Gol citrus supplier has been accused of using unlawful foreign labour after an ongoing Border Force investigation. 

Giuseppe Simonetta, 57, of Sim Fresh in Gol Gol, is facing a number of  employment-related charges under the Migration Act relating to the use of foreign workers.

Sim Fresh, a fruit packing business, is a leading supplier of citrus to local and international markets. 

An Australian Border Force spokeswoman told Sunraysia Daily the charges came after warrants were executed at the Gol Gol fruit packing business on May 17.

The case against Simonetta involves witnesses from Mildura, Melbourne and Asia, a filing hearing at Mildura Magistrates’ Court heard this week. 

The matter is currently listed in the committal stream, meaning it will ultimately be heard in the higher jurisdiction of the County Court. 

Under the act criminal sanctions, although relatively untested, can apply to employers if they knowingly or recklessly employ non citizens without work-rights.

A federal prosecutor told Mildura Magistrates’ Court they were confident the matter would settle on a plea and not proceed to trial. 

Sim Fresh is a major supplier to national retail brands and has been the face of Coles marketing campaigns. 

The brand appeared alongside celebrity chef Curtis Stone in a 2015 Coles advertising campaign spruiking its suppliers and growers. 

As recently as February this year, it received an interest free loan of $500,000 from Coles to invest in infrastructure.

Coles did not respond to requests for comment by deadline. 

Sim Fresh, run by the Simonetta family, declined to comment when contacted by Sunraysia Daily yesterday. 

The matter will be back before Mildura Magistrates’ Court in October for a committal mention.

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