Bulgaria, France Crack Down on Trafficking Scheme for Labour Exploitation
ESD 16:29:01 21-09-2019
105 HOME AFFAIRS - LABOUR EXPLOITATION - CRACKDOWN
Bulgarian, French Law-enforcers Crack Down
on Trafficking Scheme
for Labour Exploitation
Sofia, September 21 (BTA) - Bulgarian and French law-enforcers have cracked down on a ring trafficking in humans for labour exploitation, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.
On September 17, the Specialized Prosecution Office and the Directorate General for Organized Crime Control of Bulgaria and the French police and judicial authorities broke up one of the largest international organized crime groups engaged in trafficking for labour exploitation and money laundering. The investigation in Bulgaria and France was conducted under an agreement on a joint team with the participation of Eurojust and Europol.
Three Bulgarians and one French national were arrested in France. The evidence shows the Bulgarians organized trafficking in workers in the Lyon area. Four employers were found to have hired a total of 167 seasonal workers for grape harvesting. Most of them were needy, poorly educated people from Northeastern Bulgaria. The French national was in charge of finding local employers.
The ring used a legal company as a front. The workers were hired and posted to France by a Bulgarian company, to which their wages were transferred by the French employers. The criminal group seized most of the workers' earnings and invested them in trade and in property in France.
The workers signed contracts with the Bulgarian company in a foreign language, without understanding their contents, assuming that they would be paid 60 euro a day. They were provided with unlicensed transport to France and were put into tent camps. After their food and transport expenses were deducted from their wages, some workers did not have enough money to return home.
The investigation found that the Bulgarian company was registered at an empty plot of land. The police seized from the home of a member of the group documents pointing to criminal activity, including donations in the order of 40,000 euro between its members, statements showing large personal savings, cash receipts from petrol stations and documents showing purchases of large quantities of alcohol and cigarettes. The entire documentation of the accounting firm working with the Bulgarian company was also seized. DD