Work permit offense was ‘gray area,’ attorney says

Company fined for employing person outside permit conditions

 

Distinct Imports Ltd. was fined $500 Wednesday after a representative of the company pleaded guilty to the charge of employing a person outside the terms and conditions of his work permit. 

Defense attorney Laurence Aiolfi said the offense occurred as a result of what seemed to be a gray area – a shareholder promoting and lending assistance to a business.  

Crown counsel Marilyn Brandt presented the background to the charge. She told Magistrate Grace Donalds that an immigration officer made a phone call because he was interested in a black Honda he had seen for sale on a lot in George Town. Later he met a man who told him he imported cars from Japan and it appeared he worked for Distinct Imports. 

It came to the officer’s attention that the man was working as a materials manager for a healthcare institution, so working for the car import company was in breach of his permit. 

However, Ms. Brandt continued, the man was a shareholder in the company. 

Mr. Aiolfi elaborated, explaining that the man was a minority shareholder, while the other party was 60 percent. The company was incorporated on Aug. 30, 2013. 

The company had taken legal advice at the incorporation stage because the minority shareholder wished to pitch in to promote the business and lend practical assistance. A letter was prepared, setting out an agreement, with legal advice, that the minority shareholder would not be paid and not be employed, but would lend assistance. Any income would be received as a shareholder, not in exchange for work done. 

There was a full-time member of staff, Mr. Aiolfi noted. 

He also pointed out that the minority shareholder was applying for permanent residence and this business was a further step in integrating himself into the community. Information about the business was included in his permanent residence application. 

The Crown did not proceed against him. 

Mr. Aiolfi asked the court to treat the company as a first-time offender pleading guilty at the first opportunity. 

Magistrate Donalds accepted that the company was not deliberately flouting the Immigration Law provisions, but had taken advice so as to conform with and abide by the law. On that basis, she imposed a fine of $500.