A married Auckland couple of Bangladeshi descent will appear on court to face charges of human trafficking. Mohammed Atiqul Islam, 37 and his wife, Nafisa Ahmed, 34 were charged with multiple counts of human trafficking. Islam also faces additional charges of perverting the justice system by providing false and misleading information to Immigration authorities and breaching their employees’ visa conditions.
Islam is a company director and Ahmed is an accountant but they jointly ran a retail store that sold sweets. The couple allegedly falsified documents of some of their employees, who also hail from Bangladesh. The employees have alleged that they were underpaid and mistreated.
If found guilty of human trafficking, the couple could be sentenced to as long as 20 years in prison, pay a fine of $500,000 or both. With the additional charge of perverting the justice system, Islam could have an additional fine of not more $100,000 and a seven year jail term.
Islam and Ahmed are ready to face the charges and have been quoted as being “confident” that the they will gain a favourable verdict once the relevant evidence have been presented. They contend that the workers have visas that allow them to stay and work in the country and that they have “acted responsibly” with their workers.
The first conviction of human trafficking in New Zealand was handed down in 2016. Faroz Ali was convicted in December 2016 when he used deception to arrange the entry of two Indian nationals. His sentence will last nine years and six months and was ordered to repatriate $28, 167 to his victims.