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Fast food shop owner who beat slave workers and paid them with food scraps jailed for over eight years

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fast food shop owner who beat slave workers

A crooked fast food restaurant owner from the north of England has been jailed for eight and a half years after being found guilty of forcing vulnerable alcoholics to work for little or no pay.

Harjit Bariana compelled his victims to toil in slave-like conditions for up to 13 hours a day in exchange for scraps of food, alcohol and drugs.

Bariana, who confiscated the men’s clothing and shoes in a bid to prevent them from fleeing, would violently assault his victims if they refused to carry out his instructions, and would routinely ply them with diazepam, Valium and cheap alcohol to keep them addicted and under his control.

The 46-year-old was jailed today after previously being convicted at Newcastle Crown Court of six modern slavery offences against four people and of supplying diazepam.

Sentencing Bariana, Judge Sarah Mallett said: “This was, in my view, commercial exploitation. Your business model was largely predicated on free labour and the most minimal expenditure into your business to extract the maximum profit.

“You exploited their vulnerability by way of addiction, you fed and encouraged their addiction to alcohol and, on occasions, drugs.”

A woman who lived close to the shared property where Bariana kept the men told the court how she would hear him screaming at them, and how he would regularly show up with large men to intimidate his victims.

One man who was forced to work in two of Bariana’s restaurants every day for five months described how he was handed scraps of food to eat at the end of each shift, along with a bottle of spirits such as whisky, which he would have to pay for.

Another victim described how he worked in Bariana’s restaurants for 10 hours a day without pay, and was given two litres of cider at the end of each shift.

Bariana forced his victims to apply for welfare benefits to pay for their rent, and used their vulnerability and need to keep a roof over their heads to bully them into doing whatever he asked of them.

The takeaway boss, who has previous convictions for dishonesty, illegal money lending, selling counterfeit goods and making threats, could now face a Proceeds of Crime hearing that could see him stripped of his assets.

During the trial, Christopher Knox, prosecuting, said: “[The defendant] exploited people who he knew were vulnerable in all cases because they were either homeless, or near homeless, they had drug or alcohol dependencies or both.

“They were in practical terms people at a low ebb and were easily bullied, coerced and forced to do work.

“Not at the end of a pitchfork or gun, but by coercion of one form or another.”

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Interpol leads global crackdown on criminal maritime pollution

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criminal maritime pollution

A worldwide law enforcement effort designed to tackle criminal maritime pollution backed by Interpol and Europol has resulted in the discovery of hundreds of offences and exposed serious cases of contamination across the globe.

The month-long operation, which was dubbed 30 Days at Sea and took place throughout October, saw hundreds of law enforcement and environmental agencies from 58 countries uncover more than 500 violations.

In a statement, Interpol said these included numerous illegal discharges of oil and refuse from boats, shipbreaking, breaches of ship emissions regulations, and pollution on rivers and land-based runoff to sea water.

The operation – which involved a global network of 122 national coordinators directing environmental, maritime and border agencies, national police forces, customs, and port authorities – resulted in over 5,200 inspections.

These have led to the establishment of at least 185 investigations, with multiple arrests and prosecutions anticipated.

Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the operation was designed to disabuse organised criminal gangs of the mistaken belief that maritime pollution is low-risk and is essentially victimless.

“Marine pollution creates health hazards worldwide which undermine sustainable development and requires a multi-agency, multi-sector cooperative response within a solid global security architecture,” he added.

The operation resulted in the discovery of multiple cases of serious contamination, including the dumping of animal farm waste in coastal waters off the Philippines, a vessel that pumped 600 litres of palm oil into the sea near Germany, and the dumping of gallons of waste oil in large bottles at sea, which was uncovered by investigators in Ghana.

Elsewhere, environmental officials prevented a potential disaster in Albania by securing waters around a sinking vessel containing some 500 litres of oil, while a major pollution threat was averted after the collision of two vessels in French waters.

The 30 Days at Sea initiative was led by Interpol’s Pollution Crime Working Group, which heads up a number of projects designed to crack down on the transport, trade and disposal of wastes and hazardous substances in contravention of national and international laws.

Interpol said the effort was launched in response to a call to boost international law enforcement action against emerging environmental crime through action in the field.

The issue of illegal marine pollution is one that global communities may well be able to tackle successfully in the next decade, according to UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim, who urged law enforcement partners “to make sure that there is no impunity for the perpetrators of marine pollution crime”.

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Interpol hosts meeting on growing popularity of Altcoins among organised criminals

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Altcoins among organised criminals

Interpol has held a meeting focussed on the criminal use of Altcoins, and how law enforcement authorities and prosecutors can best crack down on the manner in which cryptocurrencies are routinely being used to facilitate organised illegal activity.

Convening in the German city of Nuremberg, the second meeting of the Interpol Working Group on Darknet and Cryptocurrencies heard how Altcoins have become an emerging challenge for police investigators across the globe.

Altcoins are alternative cryptocurrencies launched in the aftermath of the runaway success of Bitcoin, which itself is often used by criminals on account of the difficulty of tracing transactions carried out using it.

The meeting saw delegates discuss specific Altcoin products that should be considered a particularly high threat, as well as the most effective current investigative solutions, information sharing on the criminal use of Altcoins, and how to translate the complex technical details related to Altcoins into usable information for law enforcement authorities.

During the two-day October event, participants debated the steps for investigating crimes involving cryptocurrencies, and produced a report on the most significant Altcoins for law enforcement and their tracing capabilities.

The ultimate aim of the group’s work is to develop a common investigative methodology to assist police in counteracting the criminal activities facilitated by the anonymous cryptocurrencies.

Speaking at the conference, Bavarian State Minister of Justice Winfried Bausback said: “Cryptocurrencies give perpetrators the possibility to conceal their cash flows and identities across country borders, enabling them to elude law enforcement authorities.

“We can only confront the global cryptocurrency phenomenon by intensifying the international cooperation of powerful investigative structures.”

Thomas Janovsky, Public Prosecutor General in Bamberg in charge of the Bavarian Central Office for the Prosecution of Cybercrime, commented: “Privacy oriented cryptocurrencies like Monero or Zcash might take over at least some of the market share of the Bitcoin within the criminal environment.

“Police experts, but also prosecutors as well as judges, must adapt to this new reality soon. We all need to get ahead of technological trends to successfully fight against the criminal use of cryptocurrencies.”

Over recent years, organised criminals have increasingly turned to alternatives to Bitcoin such as Monero and Zcash, which focus on user privacy and making transactions more difficult to trace.

In its annual assessment of the threat posed by organised crime last year, Europol concluded: “Cryptocurrencies continue to be exploited by cyber criminals, with Bitcoin being the currency of choice in criminal markets, and as payment for cyber-related extortion attempts, such as from ransomware or a DDoS attack.

“However, other cryptocurrencies such as Monero, Ethereum and Zcash are gaining popularity within the digital underground.”

 

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UK government unveils major crackdown on serious and organised crime

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crackdown on serious and organised crime

Organised and serious crime has a greater impact on the British public than terrorism and all other threats to the UK, according to the country’s equivalent of the FBI.

In an announcement made before the British government unveiled a new strategy to tackle serious and organised crime, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said the problem costs the UK economy £37 billion ($47.8 billion) a year.

The agency said there some 4,600 groups involved in serious and organised crime across Britain, which commit offences such as child sexual exploitation, modern slavery and drug trafficking.

Unveiling the UK government’s new Serious and Organised Crime Strategy in a speech this morning, British Security Minister Ben Wallace announced new funding for the National Economic Crime Centre, training for police fraud investigators, and the provision of extra data and intelligence capabilities.

Other measures include the launch of new initiatives designed to prevent people from becoming involved in serious and organised crime, and the establishment of a new network of overseas policy experts.

Wallace outlined how the government will target the most dangerous and determined criminals and deny them access to their money and assets.

“Our new strategic approach not only improves our government and law enforcement capabilities, but also ensures that working with the private sector, the public and international partners are integrated as part of our response,” Wallace said.

“And working together, implementing this new strategy, we will show them just how serious we are.”

Wallace told private schools, estate agents, lawyers and accountants who turn a blind eye to clients using the proceeds of crime that they must report suspicious activity or face the possibility of punishment themselves.

Last week, the British Government announced it had teamed up with experts from the property sector to launch a new campaign intended to encourage estate agents to report suspicions of the proceeds of crime being used in transactions.

Speaking with the Daily Telegraph recently, American-born British financier and economist Bill Browder said UK law enforcement is woefully inadequate when it comes to money laundering and the targeting corrupt individuals looking to hide their dirty cash in the country.

Browder, whose lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was killed in a prison in Moscow almost a decade ago, said: “[The UK] is where most of the dirty money ends up, and law enforcement here is aggressively inadequate.

“I don’t know what the motivation is, but I know what the result is – that law enforcement here is laughable.”

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