After a police action in Helsingør early today, four individuals have been charged with human trafficking for exploitation of a Romanian couple.
The trade union magazine Fagbladet 3F, which shined a light on the systematic exploitation of Romanian cleaning workers last year, reported that police arrested eight people in a Helsingør apartment in the early hours of Monday.
Four were charged later in the day: a 39-year-old man, his 43-year-old common-law wife, a 20-year-old son and a 28-year-old male family member. All have Serbian roots.
They are charged with human trafficking for forced labour, document forgery and fraud.
The four arrestees are accused of forcing two Romanians to work under "slave-like conditions", according to the report from North Zealand Police.
According to multiple reports from Fagbladet 3F, for over three years the Romanians were forced to work as cleaners for up to 12 hours a day at 16 different locations in northern Zealand. They were given a salary of just 3,000 kroner a month, although that money was funnelled into an account that the Romanians could not access.
The Romanian couple, a 53-year-old man and a 50-year-old woman, lived in the balcony of their employer's apartment, which was also served as the employer's closet and housed a freezer and various pieces of furniture which the Romanians were not allowed to use. The couple told Fagbladet 3F that the arrested parties seized their identification papers and used them to set up false bank accounts without the Romanians' knowledge. Debit cards from that account were used by the arrested parties to pay various bills.
The employer was a subcontractor for Denmark’s second-largest cleaning company, Forenede Service, which was also the company behind Fagbladet 3F's 2012 reports about exploitation of Romanian workers. Fagbladet 3F reports that Forenede Service co-operated with police in their investigation.
The four individuals arrested on Monday all maintained their innocence. While admitting that some of the details in the case were correct, they said that they were merely trying to help the Romanians, who spoke no Danish.
The arrests mark the first time that a case of forced labour has led to the arrest of organisers in Denmark.