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Indian restaurant’s property seized in NZ for tax fraud

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Auckland: Indian restaurant Chain Masala got into trouble for tax fraud. The New Zealand police seized its 33 properties worth $34 million. It is considered the biggest cache of property ever restrained by the authorities in New Zealand.

The asset freeze came after allegations of tax fraud to the tune of $7.4 million dollars, newstalkzb.co.nz reported on Saturday.

Revenue authorities have been investigating 17 firms involved with the Masala chain for allegedly under-reporting earnings.

The restaurant chain owners, Joti Jain, Rupinder Chahil, Rajwinder Grewal and Supinder Singh have allegedly evaded paying tax by systematically stripping cash from the restaurants and not declaring cash sales in GST returns, investigator Elena Bryleva stated in an affidavit.

The brand came under scrutiny last year for paying its employees as little as $2 an hour. Co-owner Jain was sentenced to 11 months home detention last October after admitting immigration and exploitation charges.

According to Immigration New Zealand, one of her victims worked 66 hour weeks for months at the Takapuna restaurant and was also told to clean Jain’s house – all for no more than $3 an hour.

Masala founder Chahil is already facing six charges alleging he falsified immigration documents and supplied misleading information contrary to immigration laws.

Properties seized include a $3 million dollar house in Auckland’s Remuera area, a parcel of land in Takanini and four other properties believed to have been used as accommodation for Masala workers.

Some of the restaurants have since been sold and renamed.(IANS)

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After Being Stranded, 145 Pilot Whales Die In New Zealand

Marine mammals are frequently stranded on New Zealand's coasts and the average number of operations carried out by environmental officials is about 85 per year

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Pilot whales
Pilot whales. Flickr

About 145 pilot whales died in New Zealand after being stranded during the weekend on Stewart Island in the extreme south of the country, officials said on Monday.

A hiker alerted authorities on Saturday night about the situation of the whales, who were stranded in Mason Bay in two separate groups about two kilometers apart, a Department of Conservation of New Zealand release said.

Pilot whales
Almost 150 whales die in mass stranding. BBC

Half of the whales were dead when rescuers arrived and the condition of the rest, by the time they were found, was so bad it was decided to euthanise them, said Ren Leppens, operations manager at Rakiura.

“Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully re-float the remaining whales was extremely low. The remote location, lack of nearby personnel and the whales’ deteriorating condition meant the most humane thing to do was to euthanise,” said Leppens.

Pilot whales
A volunteer looks after a whale, part of a pod of stranded pilot whales.

Pilot whales, also called long-finned pilot whale, are a specimen with a bulging forehead and a robust body that can reach between six and seven meters in length, Xinhua news agency reported.

Also Read: The Ocean And Its Climate Crisis

Marine mammals are frequently stranded on New Zealand’s coasts and the average number of operations carried out by environmental officials is about 85 per year, most of them to save these animals individually.

The reasons why whales and dolphins can become stranded have not been clarified, although it is attributed to diseases, navigation errors, sudden changes in tides, being chased by predators or extreme weather conditions. (IANS)