A couple of Bangladeshi origin, who ran a sweets-making business in New Zealand’s Auckland, have been jailed for their two-year exploitation of Bangladeshi migrant workers.
Mohammed Atiqul Islam and Nafisa Ahmed were jointly charged by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) with several offences, including deceptively arranging the entry of two Bangalee nationals into the country, New Zealand Herald newspaper reported on Friday.
The couple, both New Zealand citizens, were also charged but found not guilty at a lengthy Auckland District Court trial of human trafficking.
It was one of only a handful human trafficking prosecutions in New Zealand’s legal history, the daily said.
Atiqul, a company director in his late 30s, was found guilty on 10 charges of exploitation and seven other immigration-related offences.
He was found guilty of a further three charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Nafisa, an accountant in her mid 30s, was jointly found guilty of seven exploitation charges relating to the five victims.
The pair’s offending was uncovered after two of the chefs at the Royal Sweets Cafe, also known as the Royal Bengal Cafe, complained to New Zealand authorities about the conditions imposed on them.
The chefs’ passports were also confiscated immediately after they arrived in New Zealand from Bangladesh after responding to advertisements for work in Bangla newspapers.
Judge Brooke Gibson said the chefs had “suffered grievously”.
Working long hours, the employees were paid just $6 an hour, were not paid for all of the hours they worked or any holiday pay, the court heard.
Those employees on temporary visas were also encouraged by Atiqul and Nafisa to breach their visa conditions by working more hours than stipulated by the law.
Crown prosecutor Jacob Parry said some of the victims suffered swollen legs and hands and one thought “we might die from overwork”.
“There is an attitude for the health of the business over the health of the workers,” Parry said.
One worker had also said they wouldn’t have suffered such long working hours in Bangladesh.