The man behind an online employment agency has been found guilty of ripping off workers and ordered to pay £20,000. Adrian Farmer's lawyers say he may have to sell his house to pay the penalties.
Farmer was found guilty of charging workers £124 each for falsely claiming that he was able to find them work abroad. He did this while banned from operating an employment agency. He was banned in 2003 for 10 years.
The case began with an investigation by the Employment Agency, a part of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). A Welsh Magistrates' Court found him guilty last year of operating the recruitment website while banned by the DTI.
Farmer was found guilty of breaking the Employment Agencies Act, but the DTI requested that sentencing be taken out the hands of the Magistrates Court and carried out by Swansea Crown Court.
The DTI said that the Crown Court should consider whether or not to apply the sanctions of the Proceeds of Crime Act. The Court said that Farmer had benefited from the proceeds of crime, and ordered that £20,387.86 be confiscated from Farmer as the proceeds of crime.
The Court also imposed a fine of £2,500 in punishment for operating an employment agency while barred from doing so. Compensation will be paid to two workers from the confiscated funds.
The Government said that its action was part of a campaign to tackle rogue agencies. "The Government is committed to cracking down on these agents, we have launched a consultation on a package of measures to protect vulnerable agency workers and we are working to ensure that enforcement is targeted where there is risk," said Jim Fitzpatrick, Employment Relations Minister.
"This prosecution underlines our message to rogue agents that we will not hesitate to act against any agency that wrongly and wilfully ignores the law or rips off workers," said Fitzpatrick. "It is essential that employment agencies comply with the legislation and the DTI will continue to take whatever action is necessary, including prosecution and prohibition, to protect workers against these illegal practices."