A court has recently heard a case of two men of Latvian descent who exploited, maneuvered, and frightened migrant employees and forced women to be part of fake marriages in order to assist Asian men to come to the UK.
The two culprits, 36 year old Juris Valujevs and and 28 year old Ivars Mezals are suspected of deceiving workers they supposedly gave into employment in the agrarian industries in East Anglia, by holding back wages, collecting high rents for inconducive living space and collecting fines for their own benefit, a Blackfairs crown court was informed.
Employees were usually left with nothing more than £20 every week to survive on and in some instances paid lower than a pound or nothing whatsoever. The jobs required cultivating vegetables and other physically demanding labour.
The accused were charged with behaving unlawfully as unrecognized gangmasters and with crimes committed under the Fraud and Immigration Acts. Along with Valujev’s spouse, 33 year old Oksana Valujev, and 26 year old Lauma Vankova the men are also accused of planning to arrange fake marriages to enable nationals from non – EU countries to break the laws on immigration in the UK. All four accused persons have refused to admit that they are guilty.
The culprits were apprehended as part of the Operation Pheasant and Endeavour coordinated by the police department in Cambridgeshire. This operation is supposed to fight the misuse of migrant employees in the place.
While presenting the case for prosecution, Gregory Perrins stated that the court was going to listen to a criminal case that had to do with far-reaching exploitation, maneuvering, and creating fear in migrant employees who had journeyed from eastern Europe to the UK looking for a better life. The exploitation of the female immigrants took a very evil mode in which they were made to be indebted and then sent to fake marriages to men from Morocco, Pakistan, and India.
Both Valujevs and Mezals operated a venture where they offered to give usual, good – paying jobs, and nice accommodation. But the prosecution said that the actual truth was that employees were put in tight, over-populated and shabby houses and forced to pay exhorbitant rent, up to £60 every week for having to share mattresses on the ground with three people in a room. In the process, the two men were making profits as high as £1,000 or more on some houses. They provided manpower to other organizations but did not posses the permit to work as gangmasters.
As a way of controlling the immigrants, the two men would refuse to give out employment their immigrants had started to owe them. They would then give out the employees to four different agencies that had authorizations, although three of them have since been withdrawn. And because Valujevs and Mezals were in control of when and where the employees were working, they succeeded in leaving most of them permanently indebted, otherwise called debtbondage.
Perrins stated that he would be bringing witnesses who would explain threats, including the threat of brutality, made to employees who complained, and how employees were forced into work under fake identities. He stated that Mezals used to wait in a car outside another gangmaster’s office to whom he provided employees so that he could collect their salaries from them as soon as they were remunerated. There was proof to show that some worker’s pay was deposited into his personal bank account by firms he supplied.
Checks on the two men’s belongings turned up expensive cars which included a BMW 7-series, phone transcripts revealing the true details of their business, and workers’ debt notes. The police investigation involved various enforcement organizations. The prosecution had informed the court that this was not a trafficking case because all the employees had come to the UL on their own accord.
Elaborating further, Perrins gave the example of Dace Sera a Latvian woman who replied to an advert of a regular nice-paying employment in the UK. Preparations were made for her to travel in the company of her children to England. And when she got there she was taken to one of the residences belonging to the two men and had to pay £100 a week for a room.
Every week, the two men collected rent from her and promised her a job but refused to give her any. After a long time, her indebtedness to them ballooned to around £1,000. They then supposedly gave her the opportunity of reducing the indebtedness and also being remunerated if she would consent to going to India to participate in a marriage. She was driven to London by the culprits and informed that if she refused to travel to India she would be forced into prostitution.
Finally, she had to go to India alone, without her children, and a formal wedding occurred. Records at the Valujev’s office reveal that they had recouped most of her indebtedness thereafter, but when she came back to the UK she was evicted. In like manner, immigration personnel in Delhi turned down the visa request that was made by the man she went to marry.
A jury made up of 8 women and 4 men were informed on Monday that the court case could take more than 2 and half months to prosecute. The trial is still on.