Italian authorities seized assets worth 522,883 euros from the couple
A Chinese couple has been arrested in Italy for reportedly exploiting workers from Bangladesh, China and Pakistan at a leather processing factory.
The workers had to allegedly work for 14 hours per day without breaks, for just over three euros per hour, reports InfoMigrants, a European news portal on Friday.
However, the number of migrants exploited by the couple was not known.
The Florence prosecutor's office was conducting an investigation into worker exploitation at a leather processing company when they arrested the couple. They have been kept in pre-trial custody in jail.
The authorities seized assets from the couple worth 522,883 euros.
A judge also issued residence restriction orders for two other Chinese citizens, who are relatives of the couple.
After the initial hearing, Judge Angela Fantechi wrote in the arrest warrant that the workers were kept "in a state of submission and exploitation" with "macroscopic violations of maximum work hours and a lack of breaks, with people reduced to mere labour."
In some cases, the migrants were reportedly forced to work overnight in order to meet delivery deadlines, reports InfoMigrants.
The couple has been charged with illegal gang-mastering, fraudulent bankruptcy, fraudulent declaration and fraudulent evasion of tax payments, as well as illegal collection and disposal of hazardous waste.
Investigations by Italian finance police led to a company in Rome with a local branch in Calenzano of Florence. The local branch subcontracted its work to a company managed by the Chinese couple.
The couple allegedly contracted the work to individual companies that remained operational only for brief periods of time and were periodically liquidated in order to avoid paying debts with tax authorities.
Investigators allege that the main company and its subsidiaries accrued a total of 589,000 euros in back taxes between 2013 and 2019 and evaded 522,883 euros in additional taxes.