A ST JOHNS restaurant faces a hefty £40,000 penalty after illegal workers were arrested following a Home Office raid on Friday.
Acting on intelligence, immigration enforcement officers visited Bellini in Hermitage Road at 12.50pm on August 16 to check if individuals working there had the right to be in the UK.
Two women, aged 19 and 22, and a 30-year-old man were all found to have entered the country illegally.
Officers also questioned a 33-year-old man who did not have the right to work in the UK.
The Woking business had been served a notice warning that a civil penalty of up to £10,000 per illegal worker found will be imposed unless proof is provided that the correct right-to-work checks have been carried out. This amounts to a potential total of £40,000.
The three arrested have been transferred to immigration detention pending their removal from the UK. The 33-year-old’s case is under consideration and he will also face removal from the country if found to have no right to be in the UK.
Head of the Home Office Immigration Enforcement team in the Thames Valley and Surrey areas, Paul Smith, said: “Illegal working is not a victimless crime.
“It defrauds the taxpayer, undercuts honest employers and cheats legitimate job-seekers out of employment opportunities.
“We are sending a clear message to employers who choose to use illegal labour: we will find you and you will pay a heavy penalty.
“We will not allow the growth of a shadow economy for illegal migrants.
“We are happy to work with businesses to let them know what checks need to be made on staff, but those who break the law should know that they will face financial penalties.”
Employers at Bellini are facing the heavy fine after the workers, who are from Albania, were discovered.
Rachel Chambers, who owns the florist business Ring a Roses opposite the Italian restaurant, said: “I just saw the immigration officers knocking on the door of the premises, but I didn’t see anything else.”
Measures to toughen-up civil penalties against rogue businesses employing illegal migrants, while cutting red tape for legitimate employers, have been unveiled by the Government.
A six-week consultation has been launched under the Immigration Bill to make it more difficult for illegal migrants to live and work in the UK, and to take tougher action against rogue employers who exploit them.
The consultation can be accessed at: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk by following the policy and law links.
Employers unsure of the steps to take to avoid employing illegal workers can also visit the site or call the Employers’ Helpline on 0300 123 4699.
Anyone who may have any details concerning suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 anonymously, or instead visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org