Australian authorities charged the wealthy owners of a cake store with slavery and human trafficking. The husband and wife are accused of enslaving their employee. According to Australian media reports, the victim is a Pakistani.
The accused, Abid Shah, 59, and Aeisha Shah, 48 own a patisserie chain called The Cake Merchant and employed an immigrant to work for them.
As per the Australian Federal Police, the couple confiscated the victim’s passport and made him work for excessive hours without pay. Important to note, the couple owns a $4 million mansion with seven bedrooms, a tennis court, and a swimming pool.
The accused also prevented the victim from owning a bank account and kept him under-fed. Since the Abid Shah confiscated the victim’s passport, the victim could not make an escape.
“The employee worked excessive hours, their movements were restricted, they weren’t able to have access to a bank account and they weren’t paid for their time,” Detective Inspector Jeremy Staunton said.
Furthermore, the couple kept him under threat of deportation. The police alleged that the couple monitored the victim’s overseas phone calls with friends and family.
Charged with slavery
Authorities began investigating the Shah family after the Fair Work Ombudsman reported an allegation of mistreatment of a worker at the shop in March 2018.
After the investigation, the police obtained search warrants for the couple’s home and businesses. As a result, they found various pieces of evidence suggesting that the couple enslaved the man.
Reports state that the police seized three mobile phones and multiple financial documents before arresting the couple.
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Moreover, the Australian Police charged the couple with multiple accounts, including slavery and human trafficking. They also charged the couple with conducting business involving the servitude of another person.
As per recent updates, the couple received bail under strict conditions. Abid Shah and Aeisha Shah will appear before the local court on December 14, 2021.