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Contractors Suspected of Human Trafficking

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Contractors Suspected of Human Trafficking

Construction.

Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

Foreign workers of a contracting firm under investigation for massive tax fraud, sought help at the Embassy of Poland in Reykjavík last Friday after electricity had been cut off from the building in which they resided, RÚV reports.The building is rented by their employer, who had failed to pay the electrical bill. A neighbor, who gave them a meal, described them as fearful and helpless. Close to 20 workers employed by the company have been living in the building, in poor conditions.

Five suspects in the tax fraud and money laundering case, who had been detained by police since last week, were released yesterday. They were arrested on Tuesday, last week, when house searches were conducted at 11 locations, and book keeping documents and a few million ISK in cash were confiscated. Yesterday, three additional house searches were conducted.

One of the five, the owner of a contracting firm, was charged in a human trafficking case in 2009, when a 19-year-old Lithuanian women was brought to Iceland against her will. Her countrymen received heavy sentences, but this man was acquitted.

Close to 70 foreign workers have been employed by the companies under investigation. Police suspect that dozens of them have been victims of human trafficking and investigate whether they’ve been subject to threats, or fooled into entering the country, based on empty promises.

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