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Visa Worker Says Cell Company Extorted Him

DALLAS (CN) - A Texas cellular phone company forced a worker to pay thousands of dollars a month in kickbacks to keep his job, extorting him and violating immigration laws, the man claims in court.

Rafique Jiwani sued United Cellular, based in Coppell, Texas, and Addison-based Poonja Corp., in Dallas County Court.

He says he is paid $40,000 to $50,000 a year, "However, plaintiff was compelled to kick back to defendants the sum of approximately $3,466 per month for the years 2005 to 2009, and the sum of $1,800 a month for the years 2009 to 2012, either by re-deposit to defendants or by means of cash payments," according to the complaint. "These kickbacks violated immigration laws and in addition constituted extortion of plaintiff in order to maintain his employment."

Jiwani says he is not alone: that United Cellular employs several people on H-1B visas under the same illegal circumstances. He says he was wrongfully compelled to pay for his immigration expenses, including legal fees.

And, Jiwani claims, the defendants threatened him into signing paperwork that falsely stated had borrowed money from (nonparty) Rafique Poonja and that the illegal deductions from his pay went toward repaying the phony loans.

"One of the specific threats made to plaintiff was that if he refused to sign the false loan papers then defendants would revoke plaintiff's H-1B visa, which would ultimately cause plaintiff to lose his green card," the complaint states.

"On multiple occasions, plaintiff paid various expenses of the defendants and deposited his own funds to avoid having company accounts overdrawn."

Jiwani claims that in the 7 years he has worked for the company he has not received a pay raise, though he is the only office employee trusted with signing checks.

Jiwani seeks disgorgement of profits, and actual and punitive damages for breach of trust, conversion and theft.

He is represented by W.D. Masterson with Kilgore & Kilgore in Dallas.

Follow @davejourno
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