Man jailed for six years after admitting modern slavery and fraud offences
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A man has been jailed for six years after admitting modern slavery and fraud offences following a multi-agency investigation and operation.
Following concerns being raised to police by partner agencies regarding exploitation of workers who were living in Leicestershire and working at a factory in Derbyshire, an investigation was launched.
The concerns had initially been raised to partner agencies by the factory company itself and by an employment agency.
This led to a large-scale enforcement operation being carried out across Leicestershire in December last year which saw Janos Sztojka and several others arrested.
Five victims were identified during the investigation with safeguarding measures put in place.
Enquiries found it had been arranged for men from Hungary to come over to the UK with the promise of good pay. However the men did not receive their wages or were paid a fraction of what they had earned.
An investigation, which involved a number of partner agencies including the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and the National Crime Agency, found that Sztojka had arranged for the victims to work at the factory in Derbyshire, making himself the point of contact for the men and to assist with translation. He also set up accounts for the men to be paid into and placed them in accommodation in Leicestershire.
Sztojka, who was in the UK in contravention of a deportation order, was found to be using the money paid into the accounts to fund his own lifestyle. He was also found to have set up bank accounts in the names of the victims and then used these accounts to carry out fraudulent activity including taking out loans or siphoning money.
Image of cash being seized during the enforcement operation
Further enquiries showed that one of the victims had also been made to live with Sztojka in poor conditions for several years, reporting to police that he was forced to sleep without a bed in a downstairs room along with the family dogs, was not allowed to use the toilet or shower - instead being forced to use the garden - and was shouted at or slapped if he refused to do something. A stun gun was also found at Sztojka’s home which had been used against the victim.
A stun gun was also found at Sztojka’s home
Following a full investigation, Sztojka was charged.
On Friday 23 July at Leicester Crown Court Sztojka, 33, previously of Westover Road, Leicester, pleaded guilty to
- conspiring to require another person to perform forced/compulsory labour between 1 October 2018 and 22 December 2020
- one count of arranging or facilitating travel of another person with a view to exploitation between 1 October 2018 and 22 December 2020
- four counts of arranging or facilitating travel of another person with a view to exploitation between 1 August 2018 and 22 December 2020
- making or supplying articles for use in fraud between 1 October 2018 and 22 December 2020 – namely utility bills containing false details, intending them to be used to commit, or assist in the commission of, fraud.
- entering into or becoming concerned in a money laundering agreement between 1 October 2018 and 22 December 2020 – namely supplying fraudulently obtained bank accounts knowing or suspecting that the arrangement would facilitate the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property by persons unknown.
- possession of a prohibited weapon – namely a stun gun
Today (10 August), at the same court, Sztojka was sentenced to six years imprisonment. He was also issued with a slavery and trafficking prevention order for 10 years.
As a result of the operation another person was deported by Home Office Immigration and a further person received a caution in respect of fraud offences. Further investigation remains ongoing following the operation.
Officer in the case, Detective Constable Daljinder Gill said: “This was a full team investigation involving a number of partner agencies working together following an allegation which had been made.
“The investigation had to be handled carefully and sensitively in order to ensure the victims of this offence were safeguarded and that the full scale of the crime which the defendant had committed could be proved.
“Thanks to the dedicated work of all of the team involved, Sztojka has had to admit his actions in court and his exploitation of vulnerable victims.
“I would like to recognise the bravery and co-operation of the victims in this case who have helped us massively to ensure this successful prosecution as well as those who provided information in relation to the offending which led to the initial investigation.
“Modern slavery unfortunately remains very much ongoing across the UK today. We urge people to be aware, to spot the signs and to report any suspicions they have to us. Signs include long labour hours, chaperoning, lack of personal possessions, malnutrition, and abuse. Anyone who is a victim of modern slavery should also report to us. Full support and safeguarding will be provided to you and we will take action to bring offenders to justice.”