A former clothing factory owner has been sentenced to 40 years in jail for enslaving, starving and beating employees.

Kil Soo Lee was also ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution for crimes against workers at Daewoosa Samoa Ltd in American Samoa, which made garments for retailers including large-scale US company  J C Penney.

Kil Soo was convicted of conspiracy, money laundering, extortion, and 11 counts of involuntary servitude over two years ago, representing the largest incident of human trafficking in US history.

Over 200 Chinese and Vietnamese labourers were held at the factory for over two years, until the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor launched investigations in 2001.