Brothers Erwin and Krystian Markowski have been jailed for six years for trafficking men from Poland to work at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse.
The pair hired a “spotter” in Poland to identify vulnerable people who could be sent to the UK to work.
When the workers arrived, the brothers took their passports from them and opened bank accounts on their behalf. They then withdrew most of their wages from working at Shirebrook.
The brothers, who made £35,000 from the scheme, were sentenced under the Modern Slavery Act at Nottingham crown court.
A spokesman for Sports Direct said: “We welcome the conviction of these two individuals, who were brought to justice after being reported to police by the Transline agency and Sports Direct in February 2016. It sends a clear message that we will not tolerate these kinds of behaviour.”
A Transline spokesman added: “These two brothers have no association to Transline. In February 2016, a single worker reported that they were being exploited in this manner - we reported this to the police, providing all the information we had available. Two other employees were identified as being in the same situation at the first employee’s residential address. The police later confirmed that all three former employees had been relocated and were safe, and an investigation was ongoing.
“We have stringent and thorough checks in place on identities and bank and payment details to prevent this type of criminal activity, and find any instances deplorable and cruel. We will always support the authorities in catching criminals such as these two brothers, and bringing them to justice.”
Yesterday Sports Direct replaced its three corporate brokers Goldman Sachs, Citi and Haitong with Liberum Capital.