The UK Border Agency has dished up a record £20,000 fine to a a restaurant owner Teignmouth, Devon for employing illegal workers.
In a report which first appeared on www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk, four Bangladeshi men were arrested after immigration officers raided Naz Indian Cuisine in May.
Employer Mohammed Faruk Ali faces a £20,000 civil penalty fine for not checking that the men, aged 25 to 36, were legally able to work in the UK.
This is the highest fine issued in the South West since the rules were introduced earlier this year, with the maximum penalty being £10,000 per worker.
Immigration Officers acted on intelligence and checked out the workers’ documentation in the swoop on May 1. They suspected that two chefs and two waiters were working illegally.
The four were arrested and two 30 year olds have already been removed from the UK. The 25 year old and 36 year old are due to be sent back to Bangladesh.
Mr Ali expressed his surprise on hearing about the hefty fine.
“I did not know that we had got a fine. We haven’t had any paperwork and we haven’t heard anything since the immigration people visited four or five months ago,” he said.
He added: “We will contact our solicitor and ask them why we have not been notified. They did not give us a chance to put our story forward.”
Jane Farleigh, regional director of the UK Border Agency in Wales and the South West, said:
“This fine shows how seriously we are taking illegal working. Ignorance is not a defence. Businesses must prove that they have made the right checks before they employ migrant workers.
“It is the prospect of finding an illegal job which often tempts illegal immigrants to come to the UK in the first place.”
Naz Indian Cuisine has also been named on the UK Border Agency website.
The civil penalty system was introduced to tackle employers who do not make adequate checks on their workers from outside the EU.
Immigration Officers tend to target businesses which employ a high proportion of overseas staff such as ethnic restaurants, but have also raided Nursing and Care Homes.
On average the UK Border Agency deports an illegal immigrant every 8 minutes.