Hotel owner Shamsul Arefin jailed for trafficking workers
A former hotel owner has been jailed for three years for human trafficking.
Shamsul Arefin brought four people from his native Bangladesh to work at the Stewart Hotel near Appin in Argyll over a three year period.
His victims took out loans to pay him substantial sums for employment at the hotel. One was threatened with having his kidney removed by money lenders back home if he didn't pay his debt.
Arefin's crimes were described as a "clear case of modern day slavery".
At Fort William Sheriff Court, he was found guilty of breaches of the Asylum and Immigration Act.
He carried out the crimes between 2008 and 2010. He recruited his victims by offering them jobs as chefs at his hotel.
They were told to pay him substantial sums of money which he described as a "deposit" in exchange for employment and a salary.
On their arrival at the hotel, their wages were reduced to a fraction of the contracted amount and they were required to work far longer hours with their duties extended beyond the kitchen.
The men told how they had to paint the hotel, clean rooms and cut and move logs in the hotel grounds in freezing winter temperatures.
Arefin threatened his victims with termination of their employment when they complained and refused to return the money they had paid him.
In one case the victim described how money lenders in Bangladesh had threatened to remove his kidney as a result of his inability to pay back what he owed.
The crimes came to light following an investigation by the UK Border Agency and the then Northern Constabulary.
Responding to Arefin's sentencing, Kath Harper, the Crown's national lead prosecutor for human trafficking, said: "Arefin's greed had life-changing implications not just for his victims, but for their families and others who supported them.
"Human trafficking can come in many forms and as prosecutors we are committed to doing all we can do eradicate it from Scotland."
Kevin Hyland, independent anti-slavery commissioner, added: "The victims of these particular crimes endured exploitation and abuse many thought was a distant memory of the past.
"This is a clear case of 'modern day slavery' and I commend the bravery of the four men who gave evidence at the trial. I hope that receiving justice in the courts assists in their journey of recovery."
Det Insp Richard Baird from Police Scotland said: "Shamsul Arefin was driven by financial greed and held no regard for the working conditions of those in his employment.
"This was apparent by the poor condition that his victims were subject to through working long hours at no extra pay and often with substandard equipment and working supplies.
"In bringing this individual to justice we have disrupted, if not dismantled, one more illegal enterprise and hopefully saved other potential victims from inevitable suffering."