The B.C. government is alleging that the director of a tree-planting company ordered to pay back wages to mistreated workers fraudulently transferred ownership of his $605,000 home to his wife to shirk his responsibilities.

Surrey-based Khaira Enterprises was ordered in February to pony up $236,800 in unpaid wages to 58 workers, many of whom are new arrivals from poor African countries, but the employees have yet to see any money.

In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in March, the province's Director of Employment Standards alleges that Khaira director Hardilpreet Singh Sidhu transferred ownership of his home to his wife Surbjit within days of learning he could be held personally liable for the money.

"The transfer was a disposition of property made voluntarily and with the intent to defeat, delay, hinder, prejudice or defraud Hardilpreet's creditors," the suit reads.

According to the most recent property assessment, the home at 12859 107 Ave. in Surrey is worth more twice what the workers are owed, but Hardilpreet Sidhu is otherwise insolvent.

The province is asking for a declaration that the transfer is null and void, as well as an order allowing the Employment Standards Branch to seize assets from both Sidhus.

But the Sidhus claim that the timing of the real estate transfer was just an unfortunate coincidence.

In a statement of defence, the couple claims that they decided to separate in February, and drafted a formal agreement on separation of assets.

"As part of that agreement and in consideration of Surbjit's rights and the rights and best interests of the children, the property was transferred to Surbjit," the claim reads.

Hardilpreet is now staying in the basement of the house, while his wife and their two children are living upstairs.

The Sidhus could not be reached for comment, and the couple's lawyer, David Unterman, did not respond to requests for an interview.

None of the allegations in the suit have been proven in court. A certificate has been filed with the Land Title and Survey Authority precluding the sale of the home until the legal process is complete.

Khaira's work site near Golden site was shut down a year ago after officials discovered the workers sleeping in crowded shipping containers, eating rotten food and making do with no toilets and only creek water to drink.

To make matters worse, some of Khaira's former employees are owed as much as $12,000 in unpaid wages.

Last month, the Employment Standards Tribunal upheld the decision ordering Khaira to pay the workers back and the Employment Standards Branch is currently holding $105,000 in trust for the workers.

But that money won't be released until the end of the appeals process, which could be months from now.

A registrar at the tribunal told that the appeals process could wrap up within the next one or two months -- as long as no one asks for an extension. And even when the tribunal finalizes its decision on the appeal, Khaira could ask for a reconsideration, potentially adding another 90 days to the process.

If the company is still unhappy with the decision, it could file an appeal in B.C. Supreme Court.