Businessman accused of bilking Filipino workers pleads guilty in Halifax court

A Halifax businessman accused of not paying Filipino temporary workers their required wages has pleaded guilty to a charge of misrepresentation involving 26 employees.

Hector Mantolino, owner and operator of Mantolino Property Services Ltd., was charged in June 2013 with 56 counts of immigration fraud following a Canada Border Services Agency investigation.

Defence lawyers and the federal prosecutor told Justice Glen McDougall on Tuesday the charges have been "rolled in" to a single charge of misrepresentation under section 127 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The 55-year-old stood in Nova Scotia Supreme Court to make his plea as about 20 former employees looked on.

Mantolino was accused of advising foreign workers to provide misleading and untruthful statements on their work permit applications between July 2010 and April 2013.

He was alleged to have counselled the workers to lie about their wages if they wanted to stay in Canada — with some working for as low as $3.13 per hour.