Two brothers who trafficked vulnerable men from Poland to work in a Sports Direct warehouse have been ordered to pay back £167,650.50 in criminal gains.
Following an investigation by Nottinghamshire Police, Erwin and Krystian Markowski were jailed for six years each in January 2017 for conspiring to arrange or facilitate travel with a view to exploitation, under the Modern Slavery Act, and conspiring to commit fraud by false representation, under the Fraud Act.
They were also made the subjects of the county’s first 10-year Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order on release from prison.
The pair lured 18 men to work at the sports retailer’s Shirebrook warehouse, subjecting them to poor working conditions, including body searches and pay below the legal minimum.
They took their passports from them and opened bank accounts on their behalf, withdrawing most of their income.
Enquiries made by Financial Investigators (FIs) at the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) found the siblings had made a considerable amount of money out of their victims, evidenced in money paid into UK bank accounts during their six years of offending between, August 2010 and August 2016.
Krystian had also transferred tens of thousands of pounds to his mother’s Polish bank account.
Intelligence sought from overseas revealed both defendants were also the sole proprietors of properties in Poland — assets they had failed to declare.
At Nottingham Crown Court on Friday 19 January 2018 the following Confiscation Orders, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, were granted:
* Krystian, aged 36, was found to have benefited £184,280 from his criminal exploits and was ordered to repay £97,650.50.
* Erwin, aged 39, was deemed to have benefited by £122,306 and must repay £70,000.
Both must pay off this ‘debt’ within three months or Krystian Markowski will face a face a further 15 months in jail and Erwin Markowski will face another 12 months.
A total of £4,166 of the money will be used to compensate the two traceable victims of the Markowskis, taking into consideration their loss of earnings. The remainder will be invested in policing.
FI Dawn Colorado, from EMSOU’s Regional Asset Recovery Team, said: “With assistance via gateways enabled by the European Convention we were able to identify and evidence assets held outside of our jurisdiction.
“Both defendants initially denied having interest in any property in Poland, but when served with copies of the official Polish Land Registry documents they were unable to argue.
“This case is a great example of the routes and channels we make good use of as investigators and the reach they afford us.
“If you’ve got it, we will find it — no matter where you try to hide it.”