The CEO of Finnish berry company Polarica, Jukka Kristo, has been detained on the suspicion of human trafficking. The company has already brought around 1.000 berry pickers from Thailand to Finland this year.
According to Finnish broadcasting media Yle, The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Finnish Border Guard confirmed the criminal investigation on Monday.
Jukka Kristo organized the Thai berry pickers’ transit to Finland from Thailand, and it has been suspected that the workers “were in a dependency on their employer” and housed in poor conditions.
Polarica has denied all allegations of human trafficking and offences committed by Kristo through a press release. The company further declared to have been actively following the law on foreign berry pickers and to initiate developing responsible berry picking in collaboration with Finnish and Thai authorities.
In January 2018, the head of a Central Finland berry picking company was sentenced 20 months in prison for trafficking 26 Thai workers. The workers had been forced to work 15 hours a day for little or no pay, as most their earnings went to pay off debts following their journey from Thailand to Finland. Additionally, the workers lived in trailers and shipping containers which the appeal court ruled not suitable for housing.