Dunmow restaurants face heavy fines after illegal workers arrested
Immigration chiefs arrested 13 illegal workers at two of Dunmow’s Indian restaurants last week – leaving the businesses staring down the barrel of a maximum £130,000 fine.
Home Office enforcement officers, acting on intelligence, conducted simultaneous raids on Jalsa Ghar in Stortford Road and Pride of Sylhet in High Street last Thursday evening (December 5) .
Checks revealed that eight members of staff at Jalsa Ghar and five at Pride of Sylhet were breaking the UK’s immigration rules.
All 13 offenders were Bangladeshi men ranging in age from 22 to 54. Eight had overstayed their visas, three had entered the UK illegally and two were working in breach of their visa conditions, the Home Office said.
Two of the men, both aged 34, have been taken into immigration detention pending their return to Bangladesh.
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The others were released on immigration bail to report to the Home Office while work to remove them from the country is carried out.
The businesses now face potential fines of up to £10,000 for each of the illegal workers unless they can demonstrate that appropriate pre-employment checks were carried out, such as seeing a passport or Home Office document.
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Speaking to the Broadcast, Zia Chowdhury, who is joint manager of the two restaurants alongside business partner Omar Sharif, said employment checks were carried out but that some of the men had provided fake documents.
“Even the immigration officer said the fake documents we were given were good ones and we weren’t to know,” he said.
“There were also a number of students here whose visas were breached because they weren’t attending college – but it’s not my duty to make sure they are attending, I’ve got a business to run.
“We have now been advised by Immigration Enforcement of other things we can check, so have learned our lesson.
“We wouldn’t defraud anybody. Me and Omar have been in business for 16 years and are very successful at what we do – we are hard working people.
“We both live in Dunmow and are part of the community so we wouldn’t do anything to damage our reputation. Money isn’t everything in life.”
Phil Schinkel, from Home Office Immigration Enforcement, said: “Of the 19 people we encountered on the visits more than two thirds were working illegally. Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure their foreign staff are entitled to work in the UK.”
“Illegal working is not victimless. It undercuts honest employers, cheats legitimate job hunters and defrauds the public purse.”