Home Economics Refugees under the Chain of Illegal Work and Money Laundering

Refugees under the Chain of Illegal Work and Money Laundering

Photo: OV

Riazul Islam, Mohammad Mofijul Haque and AHM Abdul Hai

Bonn, July 29 (OurVoice): A large number of the refugees and asylum seekers coming from different countries of Asia and Africa are involved in a cycle of illegal works and money laundering in Germany. Not only that; the refugees themselves are being seriously cheated by the illegal employers and the Hundi businessmen, which has come out in the investigative research of Our Voice.

About two years ago Rashid (Pseudonym) came from Afghanistan to Germany. He has been registered here as an asylum seeker. So he receives monthly social allowance from the German government. Moreover, there are facilities of food and accommodation for him. From the humanitarian ground the German government has taken over the responsibility of Rashid along with other refugees. But the German government has no information that Rashid has sent about 20 Thousand Euro to his home country in last two years. The whole amount of money was earned through illegal works and has been sent to Afghanistan through illegal channel.

Under the grip of illegeal works for less amount of wages

When refugees arrive in Germany, at the beginning they do not get the permission for work. At least three months after their asylum seeking, they get work permit, but with some limitation. When they have worked at least 15 months with right permission, they are allowed to work full time without barrier. But during this waiting time, especially the young refugees do not sit idly, rather they search in different shops and restaurants for secret work opportunities without legal status. Most of them get some opportunities in the black work market. The official minimum wage in Germany is about 8.5 Euro per hour, but they are compelled to work in these shops or restaurants at only 5 to 6 Euro per hour. Alike Afghan refugee Rashid has worked last two years for about 5 Euro per hour. He informed, the minimum wage is about 9 Euro here, but the employer has paid me always only 5 Euro per hour.

Photo: OV
Photo: MMH/OV/Italy


Almost same experience have shared the refugees coming from other countries. Bangladeshi refugee Niajee (Pseudonym) has reached Germany crossing the vast ocean from Libya two years ago. Last year he has worked in a restaurant in a city in NRW state. He had to work six days a week from 17:00 to 24:00. For his hard work he got wage of only 200 Euro a week. As he had no work permit, he had no alternative but to continue the work for less amount of wage.

Another Bangladeshi refugee Faruq has worked in several business firms. But all were illegal. He said, ‘many employers want to offer work, but they do not want to sign work agreement. Because, if they sign contract with the workers, the employers have to pay extra four to five hundred Euro for the legal employees. That is why they are more interested to recruit more illegal workers. On the other hand, we do not have work permit, so we accept such illegal works.’

Khorsed (Pseudonym), coming from Lahore of Pakistan to Germany about four years ago, said, ‘When I arrived here and did not the permission to work, I was going to be mad pondering over how I could pass days and nights without work. So I was compelled to find an illegal work. Since then I could not come out of this practice of working illegally, though I do not like it.’

Photo: AH/OV

However, this is the reality not only in Germany, almost same situation is prevailing in another European country Italy. Bangladeshi refugee Abdul (Pseudonym) stays in Montefiascone refugee camp in Lazio region in Italy. He informed, he himself does the illegal work for some extra income. But he gets only 30 Euro per day. He was supposed to get 300 Euro after working 10 days, but the employer has handed over only 250 Euro. As there is no alternative, he received that wage after 10 days.

Money Transfer through Illegal Channel

In accordance with the statistics of German Federal Department of Refugee and Migration (BAMF), presently about 10,09,000 refugees are staying in Germany. In the first six months of this year about 1,12,000 refugees have applied for asylum in Germany. These eleven hundred thousand refugees cannot transfer any money to their family and relatives back home through legal channels like Western Union, MoneyGram, RIA or such financial institutions, as long as they have legal status in Germany.

So in order to transfer their illegally earned money to home country, they are to take some alternative ways. They found some country people, who have been living in Europe for long time. They take Euro from refugees in a low rate and give some money to the relatives of refugees in local currency in home country. Here again refugees are becoming victim of cheating by the Hundi businessmen. The Bangladeshi refugee Ruhul (Pseudonym) from the southern region has sent almost 70 Thousand Euro to his family through such an illegal Hundi method and at a low rate.

Photo: OV

In the condition of anonymity he informed, ‚after the arrival here I got a black or illegal work. The owner of the restaurant has made an accommodation here. But if I would have permission for work, I would have earned almost three times more money. Again to transfer money through Hundi channel, I got less money than the market rate. So we are being cheated in both ways.’

Bangladeshi refugee Kalam (Pseudonym) opined, almost all refugees are somehow involved in the illegal works. He along with his family came to Germany about two years ago and sought political asylum here. He has sent about 20 Thousand Euro to his relatives in Bangladesh. He has also built a new house there with this money. This huge amount of black money has been sent through Hundi channel and also he sent some money by hand, when somebody travelled to his home country.

But these illegal channels are also not safe for money transfer. In many cases, the Hundi channels cheat the whole amount and pay nothing to the right person, informed refugee Khorshed, coming from Lahore region. He regularly sends money through Hundi channel and he earns this money by working illegally. He added, ‘On the one hand we are earn less than the minimum wage, on the other hand we are being cheated by the Hundi channels.’

Huge Loss of Income Tax for Government  

In accordance with the statistics of BAMF, about half of the refugees in Germany are of the age from 18 to 50 years. If all of them are involved in illegal works, about half Million refugees are earning through illegal works. If they transfer money back home about 10 Thousand Euro per year in average, then about 5 Billion Euro has been transferred to the southern countries illegally avoiding the income tax, which is a great loss for Germany.

Photo: AH/OV


Consequently the German government is losing huge taxes, on the other hand the southern countries cannot get the right figure of remittance sent from their migrant workers. Not only that, there is much risk and anxiety of being this huge amount of money used for drug smuggling and terrorist activities.

The Founder President of BASUG Diaspora and Development, based in the Netherlands, and Remittance Expert Bikash Chowdhury Barua expressed concern for the refugees being cheated and said, actually no one would leave their homelands with huge risks without serious causes. But after arriving in Europe or America, when they do not get permission for work, they are compelled to start working illegally for less wage and in spite of being cheated they are keeping themselves in the black work market. So if the European countries would give the permission of work at least to the young and fit refugees from the beginning, they would not go to the illegal job market and they would have worked with due wage and they would have paid the proper income tax, which would be the great benefit for the governments too.

About the risk of money transfer through Hundi and illegal channels he said, “We have been since long working from BASUG and encouraging the migrant workers for money transfer only through legal channels. If the remittance is transferred through legal channels, it is profitable for both countries, even for the social safety as well. As when the remittance is sent through legal ways, it can be utilized for different community development projects. Moreover, the respective governments can also offer different incentives for such development initiatives. So proper measures should be adopted, so that the refugees can transfer their remittance through legal channels.”


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