In the first conviction of a labour trafficking case in Singapore, an Indian couple was convicted of abusing their power to exploit employees by various means including verbal abuse, financial penalties and controlling their movements, a media report said on Saturday.
Priyanka Bhattacharya Rajesh (31) and Malkar Savlaram Anant (51), who ran two nightclubs in Singapore, were also on Friday found guilty of three prostitution-related offences, reports The Straits Times.
During the trial, the prosecution submitted that Malkar was the sole managing operator of one nightclub, and was responsible for recruiting performing artists at the second.
He recruited three Bangladeshi women as dancers for the nightclubs, and they lived with the couple in a private apartment, said prosecutors.
They jointly managed the day-to-day operations of the two nightclubs and their employees.
However, Malkar and Priyanka did not allow the three women to leave the apartment on their own and also confiscated their passports, work permits as well as their mobile phones.
The three women also had to work daily and the couple did not pay at least two of them their promised monthly salary of S$967.
The women were not allowed to keep the tips they had earned and were given "revenue targets" to meet, failing which they were penalised by having their salaries docked or being "blacklisted", said the prosecution.
Priyanka also told one of the three women that she had to "go out with customers", said prosecutors, which the victim testified to mean having sex with customers.
In passing his verdict on Friday, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said Malkar and Priyanka's relationship with the three women was "far removed from the ordinary employee-employer relationship", adding that victims were entirely at their mercy, The Straits Times reported.
The Ministry of Manpower said this is the first labour trafficking case resulting in a sentence in Singapore since 2015, when the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act came into force.
There are currently three labour trafficking cases before the courts.
The couple's sentencing was adjourned to next month.