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One of the directors of the employment agency Flextime in the Netherlands may face a two-year prison sentence for assaulting temporary workers and operating a criminal organisation, a court in Deventer demanded on Tuesday.
The accused, who has only been identified as (MB) in court, has run an illicit recruitment agency trafficking workers into the country who were mainly from Eastern Europe.
MB and three other main suspects, who have not been named, are alleged to have been involved in exploitation, money laundering, forgery and sexual assault.
But the court has delayed a definite decision as lawyers are still reviewing evidence. A public prosecutor said that the court will continue a hearing on 29 October, expecting the case to be closed by mid-November.
Flexitime mainly hired Polish workers who were continuously underpaid and robbed of their pay. Workers were also harassed, beaten and threatened. Female workers were sexually assaulted by the members of the agency. The assaults took place between January 2009 and October 2010.
An ex-girlfriend of MB suffered assaults and brought the case to the attention of the police. Six women and one man have since been identified as victims, but the actual number could be much higher, according to the prosecutor.
This has been an unusual case and the Dutch government is determined to abolish such rogue agencies in the country.
A package of measures launched by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment aims to reduce the number of rogue agencies to zero by 2014. Members of the public can now report suspicious employment agencies to the Labour Inspectorate by calling a national hotline number.