Eight people are accused of offering Pakistani workers ‘an opportunity of a lifetime’ to come to work in Huddersfield.
But instead a court heard they were exploited into low paid work and threatened with being reported to immigration if they did not comply.
Leeds Crown Court heard in many instances, the workers who were brought to Huddersfield to work as tailors sold their own businesses, homes and land to afford arrangement fees of around £10,000.
Four men and four women all from Huddersfield appeared at Leeds Crown Court charged with conspiracy to traffic persons into the UK for the purposes of exploitation.
The defendants are: Nisa Ul Haq, 39, of The Fairway in Fixby. Ahjaz Hussain, 34, of Victoria Road in Lockwood, Shahbaz Hussain, 38, of St Stephen’s Road in Lockwood, 41, Muhammad Iqbal, 46, of Yews Mount in Lockwood, Shahnaz Iqbal, 52, of Kaffir Road in Edgerton, Mohammed Sarfraz, 35, of Victoria Road in Lockwood, Hajrah Sarfraz, 37, of Victoria Road in Lockwood, Raheela Bibi, 41, of Lockwood Road.
Haq is further charged with facilitating the commission of a breach of UK immigration law by a non EU person.
The jury heard how five of the defendants standing trial are siblings and ‘that family tie is central to the conspiracy’.
Prosecutor Simon Kealey said: “The defendants were part of a criminal conspiracy to bring workers in the clothing industry from Pakistan by inducing them with promises of work in the United Kingdom and then extracting money from them in the form of fees for arranging their entry.
“Once entry had been gained the workers were exploited by low levels of pay, levies in the form of ‘taxes’ and control over them by threats of reporting them to Immigration authorities.”
He added: “Applications were made for a total of 26 tailors with salaries between £15,000 and £19,000. Some of the applications were unsuccessful but some succeeded.
“A number of those workers were paid only a fraction of that promised or were forced to repay the wages paid.”
The prosecution say Haq, 39, a qualified legal executive, was central to the conspiracy and was director of two of the companies Ezzah Taylorz in Lockwood Road and Haq & Sanderson Immigration Ltd, Hillhouse Lane, Fartown, which was used to front the operation.
The court heard it was Haq who travelled to Pakistan and initiated contact with individuals and made arrangements for obtaining a work permit in return for ‘substantial sums of money, far outweighing the cost of the visa’, the prosecution say.
In a number of cases the Pakistani workers were told she had a ‘large factory’ in Huddersfield when in reality Ezzah Taylorz was a small manufacturing area with four sewing machines, two of which weren’t working.
In addition to sums charged for arranging the visa and work permits, Haq would make each worker pay between £100 and £150 a week saying it was for ‘taxes and insurance.
If the workers refused she would threaten to inform immigration authorities and force them to sponsor other Pakistani workers to gain work permits in the UK, the prosecution maintain.
Mr Kealey said: “Each (worker) was from a poor background and the opportunity to work in the UK was an opportunity of a lifetime.
“Haq was involved with false entries upon application forms and deceived the applicants about their living and working conditions.
“She exploited them by paying them very low levels of pay and took sums of money from which she was not entitled.”
A third company, an Asian clothes shop, called Ezaah Boutique, in Blacker Road, Huddersfield was also under the ‘effective control’ of Haq, the prosecution say.
Her sister and brother-in-law Hajrah Sarfraz and Mohammed Sarfraz, were the directors.
Mohammed Iqbal, was Haq’s ‘right hand man’ and involved in recruiting individuals in Pakistan to come to work in the UK.
Haq’s sister Shahnaz Iqbal was the company secretary of both Ezaah businesses and is alleged to have signed leases and documents which were not genuine.
Haq’s brother Shahbaz Hussain worked at Haq & Sanderson Immigration and was said to have taken money from workers.
Ahjaz Hussain, Haq’s brother is said to have received money from three workers in Pakistan as part of an arrangement fee.
Raheela Bibi was herself brought to the UK by Haq and allegedly allowed large amounts of money to be deposited into her account.
All eight defendants deny charges.
The trial continues.