19 July 2024

Sweet shop owner couple jailed for exploiting workers

By Gurbir Singh:

Just a day after two migrant workers of Mt Albert Super Liquor alleged they were paid $6 an hour for up to 90 hours of work a week, in another case, a couple have been jailed this morning after being found guilty of multiple charges of migrant exploitation.

The Bangladeshi couple Mohammed Atiqul Islam and Nafisa Ahmed were both found guilty of a number of exploitation and immigration charges after a trial ending in March this year. The couple exploited five migrants, including two specialists chefs, in Sandringham’s ‘Royal Sweets and Cafe’ between 2014 and 2016.

Islam was sentenced to four years and five months jail time and Ahmed is facing two years and six months. Both are New Zealand citizens.

Islam was found guilty of 10 charges of exploitation and six other immigration related offences. He was also found guilty of three charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Ahmed was jointly found guilty of eight exploitation charges. The charges relate to the couple’s previous ownership of an Auckland sweet shop where they exploited five victims over a two year period.

The court heard today the men worked 14 hours a day – seven days a week – for more than a year and were paid just $6 or less an hour.

The sentencing Judge, Judge Gibson said the defendants were guilty of a deliberate and systematic exploitation of their workers.

Judge Gibson told the defendants, “The Jury rightly found you guilty. In some ways you were shamelessly so. You paid your employees $6 per hour, encouraged workers to breach their visas, confiscated the passports of the chefs immediately after their arrival in New Zealand. In the end, the workers resorted to the New Zealand Police to get their passports back. I have no doubt the passports were taken and withheld for the purpose of controlling your employees.”

Inauguration of Royal Sweets in 2015
Opening of Royal Sweets shop, Sandringham in July 2015 (Photo: FB/Len Brown)

Immigration New Zealand Assistant General Manager, Pete Devoy, said “I am pleased with this outcome, this is a clear signal from the Court that exploitation is viewed as a serious offence, and it is criminal offending we don’t want in New Zealand society.

“This type of offending erodes the dignity of the victims… I thank them for their strength of character in bringing these matters to our attention and following them through to trial. It’s an ordeal they should not have had to face.”

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