Recruitment agency staff nabbed for defrauding Thai workers

Arrests come after undercover investigation by Tax Authority's nat'l anti-crime unit; suspects allegedly forced workers into form of indentured servitude.

FOREIGN WORKERS 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Twelve employees of an Ashkelon-based recruitment agency were arrested on Monday morning on suspicion of ripping off Thai agricultural workers and forcing them to work many hours to meet their illegal debts to the agency.
The undercover investigation was jointly managed by the National anti-crime unit, the Lahav 433 Unit, the Income Tax Investigation office in Jerusalem (a part of the Tax Authority) and other agencies.
Authorities suspect that the Interman recruitment agency forced Thai workers to pay tens of thousands of shekels to work in Israel, and ran what was in effect a slave labor market when the workers could not pay off their illegal debts.
The law permits recruitment agencies to take a maximum of 3,400 shekels from each foreign worker, but police suspect the debts incurred by the agency reached sums of $10,000 per worker.
The sums were allegedly divided among Israeli and Thai recruitment staff.
The suspects also allegedly failed to report their earnings and laundered the sums.
“In addition to the criminal aspects, these offenses... cause harm to the image of the State of Israel,” police said in a statement on Monday.