A paroled businesswoman who, along with her husband, exploited migrant workers at their Auckland sweets shop has had her chartered accountant's membership terminated for bringing the profession into disrepute.
Nafisa Ahmed was charged alongside her partner, Mohammed Atiqul Islam, by Immigration New Zealand in 2018 after it was discovered the Bengali couple were exploiting workers at Auckland business Royal Sweets and Cafe.
Both were imprisoned in May last year after paying their employees as little as $6 an hour and failing to pay them for all of the hours they worked, or for any holiday pay.
It was described by a judge as "a kind of economic slavery".
The pair, who are both New Zealand citizens, was also charged but found not guilty of human trafficking at a lengthy Auckland District Court trial. It was one of only a handful of human trafficking prosecutions in New Zealand's legal history.
But the fallout for Ahmed, who was granted parole from her two years and six months' jail sentence in May, continues with a decision released to the Herald today by the Disciplinary Tribunal of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants.
The tribunal charged Ahmed, who is in her 30s, with bringing the profession into disrepute after her conviction on seven exploitation charges.
A hearing on June 24 was held via Zoom but Ahmed did not attend, provide any submissions, or enter a plea to the charge so the hearing proceeded on a formal proof basis.
However, she did advise the tribunal she didn't want to pursue accounting as her career path.
"In the Tribunal's view, the nature of the [Ahmed's] offending both reflects on her fitness to practise accountancy and tends to bring the profession into disrepute," the decision reads.
"The Tribunal notes that in the Court's view, the employees suffered grievously as a result of [Ahmed's] activities. The Tribunal also notes the Judge's comments that [Ahmed] did not take any responsibility for her offending and the judgment further notes that she has shown no remorse."
The tribunal, chaired by M.J. Whale FCA, was also concerned what it described as a "disturbing aspect of this case", that being Ahmed's "lack of insight into the seriousness of her offending, and her lack of remorse".
Along with terminating Ahmed's membership, it also removed her name from the register of members.
Ahmed was further ordered to pay the Professional Conduct Committee $6545 for the costs and expenses of the hearing.
"Although it appears that the business in respect of which the offending occurred has
subsequently failed, there was no evidence before the Tribunal of the Member's current financial position. In the circumstances known to the Tribunal, it considers that the costs sought by the PCC are fair and reasonable."
Ahmed and Islam's offending was uncovered after two of the chefs at the cafe, also known as the Royal Bengal Cafe, made complaints to New Zealand authorities about their working conditions.
The chefs' passports had been confiscated immediately after they arrived in New Zealand from Bangladesh after responding to advertisements for work in Bengali newspapers, the court heard at the pair's sentencing.
Those employees on temporary visas were also encouraged by Islam and Ahmed to breach their visa conditions by working more hours.
Some of the workers had borrowed money from relatives and friends to pay for the move to New Zealand but with no effective income, they were unable to repay the loans.
In May, Islam lost his appeal against his four year and five months' prison sentence.
Highly educated, the man also known as Kafi Islam holds a bachelor of commerce and a postgraduate diploma in business. He has worked in positions with ANZ, Baycorp, Bank of New Zealand, Watercare and Spark.
He was found guilty on 10 charges of exploitation and seven other immigration-related offences.
He was also found guilty of a further three charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
When Ahmed was granted parole, her release conditions included not being allowed to work with her husband.