Ukrainian 'made £5m from illegal workers'

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The Independent Online

A Ukrainian asylum-seeker made more than £5m in three years off the backs of hundreds of illegal immigrants he sent to work in British factories, a jury was told yesterday.

A Ukrainian asylum-seeker made more than £5m in three years off the backs of hundreds of illegal immigrants he sent to work in British factories, a jury was told yesterday.

While Victor Solomka's army of more than 700 eastern European workers were living up to 11 to a house, the 44-year-old was living in a £175,000 family home and driving around in expensive cars, the court heard.

King's Lynn Crown Court was told Mr Solomka set up three companies after arriving in Britain as an asylum-seeker in February 2000. It is alleged his companies supplied illegal workers, mainly to fish factories in Scotland, and then laundered the money he made.

Rupert Overbury, for the prosecution, said workers had come to the UK from countries including Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Moldova and Lithuania. Police found that of the 700 staff on Mr Solomka's books, 429 had never been registered with the Home Office while just 86 had properly authorised national insurance numbers.

Mr Overbury said the factories were charged up to £6.50 per hour and the workers were paid about £4.30, minus deductions for rent and travel.

In 2002, Mr Overbury said, Mr Solomka's weekly income was £7,600, while for the beginning of 2004 it was £13,400.

Mr Solomka, from King's Lynn, Norfolk, denies conspiracy to facilitate the commission of breaches of immigration law and transferring the proceeds of criminal conduct.

The trial continues.