Bogus gangmasters deported from UK
17th November 2017
A Lithuanian couple who built up an illegal property empire and gangmaster business in Lincolnshire have been deported from the UK.
Stasys Skarbalius, 60, was deported to his home country having served a two-and-a-half-year-jail term for acting as a gangmaster using a fraudulently obtained licence.
His wife, Virginija Skarbaliene, 58, was deported after serving a three-year prison sentence for also acting as a gangmaster using a fraudulently obtained licence.
The couple operated as gangmasters illegally between 2006 and 2010, after fraudulently setting up staff-finding business CV Staff Services to provide fieldworkers to harvest crops.
They did it under a fake identity and applied to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) for licences. They also used the fake ID to obtain mortgages and build a property portfolio.
Confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act were also imposed following their sentences, with Skarbalius repaying £187,219 and Skarbaliene £231,687. Their company subsequently ceased to exist.
Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Skarbalius and Skarbaliene created a successful business and comfortable lifestyle based on dishonesty and this should serve as a warning to others thinking of abusing the hospitality of the UK. Their criminal activities have cost them their freedom, financial proceeds and the right to live in the UK.
“We will seek to deport those who are given a custodial sentence and whose conduct poses a serious threat to the basic fundaments of society.”
The couple facilitated hundreds of Eastern European nationals into work in agricultural and horticultural industries in Lincolnshire, Humberside, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridge over four years.
The sham was exposed in 2011 when Skarbalius’ forged passport expired and he was unable to use it to renew the GLAA licence.
Following a joint investigation by the GLAA and East Midlands Special Operations (EMSOU), the couple were jailed in 2015.
In addition to the gangmaster licensing charges they also each received concurrent sentences of 18 months for mortgage fraud using false ID. Skarbaliene received an additional nine month concurrent sentence for attempting to pervert the course of justice by giving a false name when caught drink driving.
The conviction was the first of its kind in the UK, relating to possession of a document known to be obtained improperly with the intention of leading people to believe they were properly licensed.
GLAA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent said: “Our licensing scheme exists to protect workers by ensuring gangmasters are fit and proper and that all workers’ rights are protected.
“This couple built a business and property empire based on fraud – which unfortunately for them was spotted by one of our inspectors. As a result of them attempting to cheat the system they must now build new lives back in their homeland.”
NOTES TO EDITOR:
The Gangmasters Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) licenses companies that supply labour (gangmasters) for agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering as well as associated processing and packaging. Its main aim is to prevent worker exploitation, protect vulnerable people and tackle unlicensed and criminal activity.