Finnish greenhouse owner arrested for exploitation and human trafficking of Vietnamese workers

PHOTO: TERVO / HBL ARCHIVE

At the end of last week, the District Court of Ostrobothnia in Finland arrested a local greenhouse entrepreneur from Närpes on probable cause on suspicion of exploitation and attempted human trafficking of Vietnamese workers, HBL reports.

The entrepreneur, who is one of Finland’s largest cucumber growers, has been under investigation for a long time for irregularities in how labor from Vietnam has been brought to his farms in Närpes.

Crime Commissioner Hannu Kortelainen from the Helsinki Police’s human trafficking group says that the entrepreneur is firstly arrested for suspicion of human trafficking and secondly for suspension of exploitation of the Vietnamese workers.

In January, a case about the systematic and long-term import of Vietnamese labor in Närpes emerged. A local mediator in Vietnam is said to have taken between 10,000 and 20,000 euros per person to get his compatriots to Finland where they were forced to work 15 hour days. The Vietnamese workers which include couples and families with children are suspected of being victims of extortion and possibly human trafficking. Previously, three Närpes residents from Vietnam have been detained in the case, but the last one of them was released last week. This is the first time that police have confirmed that a local greenhouse grower is also suspected of the crimes. 

Hannu Kortelainen says that the new arrest is a separate track insofar as it concerns how the Finnish entrepreneur recruited labor for his greenhouses. “Our suspicions now concern his own business where we believe there may be up to forty victims,” Kortelainen says.

Throughout the investigation, the police have had challenges in getting the victims to talk.

“The same applies in the case of the entrepreneur. Many people are afraid both when it comes to their own situation in Finland but also what can happen at home in Vietnam. Some are also now aware that they have fallen victims of a crime,” Kortelainen says.

 

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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