Sweet shop owners found guilty of exploiting migrants

5:46 pm on 6 March 2019

A Bangladeshi couple who owned an Auckland sweet shop have been found guilty of exploiting migrants, but not human trafficking.

New Zealand Coat of Arms

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Mohammed Atiqul Islam and his wife, Nafia Ahmed pleaded not guilty to 25 charges of human trafficking and exploitation in the Auckland District Court last month.

Today they were found guilty on a number of exploitation and other immigration related charges relating to five migrants they employed at their Indian sweet shop in Sandringham, between 2014 and 2016.

They were found not guilty on two human trafficking charges.

Immigration New Zealand acting general manager Jock Gilray said although the couple were found not guilty of human trafficking, the guilty verdicts sent a strong message that migrant exploitation will not be tolerated.

"The charges against Islam and Ahmed are the result of painstaking work by INZ investigators and a number of people across a range of agencies," Mr Gilray said.

"Exploiting migrants is an abhorrent practice that undermines human rights and creates an uneven playing field for the vast majority of New Zealand business that seek to comply with New Zealand law."

Islam was found guilty on 10 charges of exploitation and seven other immigration related offences. He was also found guilty of three charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Nafisa Ahmed was jointly found guilty of seven exploitation charges.

The maximum penalty on the exploitation, false and misleading information and aiding and abetting charges is seven years' imprisonment and or a maximum $100,000 fine. The maximum penalty for attempting to pervert the course of justice is seven years' imprisonment.

The couple will be sentenced on 17 April.