Modus operandi:
bogus self-employment
Forced bogus self-employment refers to a situation where the conditions of work resemble an employment relationship but the worker is self-employed on paper and responsible for the risks and obligations related to self-employment, while the employer is able to cut costs. These types of arrangements have become more common of late in the context of labour exploitation also in Finland, Estonia and Latvia.
A case concerning Polish and Romanian bogus self-employed workers was opened following the findings of the Belgium's Financial Intelligence Processing Unit concerning a company's suspicious transactions. The main defendant managed a company specialising in building works. He had set up two British companies which, in turn, set up two other companies. Romanians were then employed as limited partners or associates in the structure of these last two companies. They worked mainly as subcontractors for the main company. The Romanian workers were unaware of their roles as managers-partners of the company and were therefore employed as self-employed workers, earning EUR 8 per hour. Through this wage, the Romanian workers were required to pay social and tax contributions, as well as rent for accommodation. Investigators used money tracking techniques to identify the perpetrators, criminal organisation elements, and to analyse the network. Over the course of this case's financial investigation, investigators queried banks and money transfer agencies, conducted wiretaps to track the defendants' investment and identify local hawala bankers and analysed the role of construction companies and accounts. The defendants of the case were prosecuted for human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation (conditions contrary to human dignity), with aggravating circumstances. The defendants were also prosecuted for participation in a criminal organisation, forgery and the use of forgeries, breaches of the income tax code, money laundering and fraud.

Source: UNCHAINED project

Case example