March 12 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Businessman Robert Divkovic – who ran Roberto Mac Ltd - has been cleared by police of conspiracy to defraud but the Gangmasters Licensing Authority says his licence to operate remains revoked.
His wife, Marija, says she got a text message from police to say her husband was in the clear – four months after a 3am raid which led to the liquidation of his company and the collapse of his multi-million pound business.
“One of the detectives sent me a text message to say my husband had been cleared,” said Marija. “That was that”.
Mr Divkovic though insisted on police putting it in writing that his bail had been ended and all charges dropped - and that letter arrived last Thursday.
“Until it arrived I didn’t truly believe it,” he said.
But he faces an uncertain future after the Gangmasters Licensing Authority insisted his licence remained revoked after their inquiries found he had breached their regulations.
A GLA spokesman said the district wide investigation had considered “how workers were treated and if the company was compliant with the GLA’s licensing standards.”
He said inquiries “identified the extent of non-compliance, with evidence of multiple non-compliances against the authority’s licensing standards. That led to the licence being revoked with immediate effect on January 9 2014.”
The spokesman explained that the threshold for revocation of a licence is 30 points. In an inspection non-compliances are “totted up” similar to the process for driving licence disqualification. Critical breaches score 30 points and other breaches score 8 points.
“The GLA found Roberto Mac Ltd to be in breach of seven standards in total – five of them critical – producing a total of 166 points,” said the spokesman.
One of the standards was failed because evidence indicated Mr Divkovic was not “fit and proper‟ to run his business in a compliant manner. Others areas of non-compliance uncovered included the company not paying national minimum wage; not providing accurate payslips that showed deductions from workers pay; not providing safe accommodation for workers; failing to provide workers with
personal protective equipment (PPE) for safety at work; transporting workers in unsafe vehicles, having drivers over the drink drive limit and using an unlicensed sub-contractor.
The spokesman said: “The company is entitled to appeal the GLA decision. No appeal has been received by the authority to date.”
His name cleared of criminal charges but his business destroyed and his health in serious decline, Mr Divkovic is concerned for the future.
He said: “I was suddenly left with no money to run the business, it went into liquidation and at one point I went to the job centre to find work.
“However, now I am not well enough to work anyway.”
His wife said: “They destroyed us – and 200 people were left without jobs and are now on social as a result.”
For many weeks Mrs Divkovic has been filing complaints to the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and police about the way the inquiry was handled, particularly in the light of her husband’s medical conditions.
Mr Divkovic said: “The procedures were totally unacceptable and wrong and it was disproportionate.
“What did they think I was, some sort of Mafia boss? They were treating me worse than that.”
Mrs Divkovic added: “What happened to us is a crime – when they came to the house they didn’t know we had children asleep upstairs and neither did they know the extent of my husband’s health problems.
“I am optimistic though for the future and that is because I believe in my husband. I don’t care about possessions – they are just things.”
A police spokesman confirmed that Mr Divkovic’s bail had been cancelled.
A GLA spokesman said: “Following on from the suspension imposed on October 15, 2013, the licence of Roberto Mac Ltd was revoked with immediate effect by the GLA on January 9.
“This decision was taken exclusively by the authority based on evidence uncovered through enquiries into suspected breaches of licensing standards. It remains in force.
“While the GLA assisted the police investigation, the decision not to impose charges against the company and/or its directors was taken by the Crown Prosecution Service.”