The UK Border Agency has asserted the Gangmaters Licencing Act is in place to protect workers from exploitation; and it will make every possible effort to retrieve the proceeds of immigration crime.
`Gangmasters licences are designed to protect agricultural workers and were introduced in 2004 as part of the Gangmasters Licensing Act.
The assertion came after a man who acted as an illegal gang master has had assets worth more than £310,000 seized.
The border force said Kuldip Singh and Zuber Mohammed both pleaded guilty to offences under the Gangmaster Licensing Act (GLA) and were given suspended prison sentences in December 2009, following an investigation by the UK Border Agency immigration crime team.
Singh, a shopkeeper, admitted illegally supplying workers to three Yorkshire companies through his own firms, Diamond Employment Agency and Opiecare Ltd, over a 20 month period between November 2006 and June 2008. He had applied for a licence, but when his application was refused he continued to supply workers illegally.
At the 2009 hearing he also admitted two counts of facilitating a breach of immigration law. He was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years.
The UKBA said If any of the firms Singh supplied workers to asked to see his licence he would refer them to Mohammed, who did have a licence. However, the arrangement was a sham as the licence did not cover Singh, but he would continue to supply the workers.
Mohammed also pleaded guilty to breaching the GLA at the hearing, as well as facilitating a breach of immigration law. He was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years.
The UKBA added: `At Hull Crown Court Singh, of Rivelin Park, Kingswood, Hull, had £314,138.15 confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act. He has 6 months to pay. If he defaults he faces 3 years in jail. Mohammed, of Arthur Harris Close, Birmingham, had £50,947.35 confiscated under the same Act in February of this year.
`Singh is originally from India, but received British Citizenship in 1985. Mohammed is a Iraqi failed asylum seeker’.
Steve Lamb, UK Border Agency regional director said: 'The Gangmaters Licencing Act was put in place to protect workers from exploitation, and to operate outside of the act represents a serious offence. The seizure of these assets reflects the fact that the UK Border Agency will make every possible effort to retrieve the proceeds of immigration crime.
'We have dedicated crime teams who work to stamp out these sorts of offences, and the financial investigation teams that will ensure they do not profit from their illegal operations. Let this be a warning to those who look to breach immigration law. We will come after you, and we will seize your assets.'