Five men have been detained after Immigration Enforcement officers raided the Voujon Indian restaurant in Bury St Edmunds last Friday.
The Home Office said today that officers raided the restaurant in Mustow Street at about 6.15pm to check whether staff had the right to live and work in the UK.
They detained a 27-year-old Albanian and a 33-year-old Bangladeshi who they say had entered the UK illegally, plus four from Bangladesh, aged 25,33 and 35, who they say have overstayed their visas.
But restaurant owner Forhad Ruof says he has documentary evidence that he has checked all the men’s paperwork and says that though he was there, the officers did not interview him about the staff or what checks he had made.
He adds that the Albanian’s mother was British and the man was released on Wednesday night while the investigation continues.
The Home Office says the ‘illegal entrants’ have been detained pending removal from the UK while the others have been ordered to report regularly to Immigration Enforcement while their cases are progressed.
If Mr Ruof cannot show he made appropriate right to work checks he could face fines of up to £20,000 per person.
Ed O’Dowd from the East of England Immigration Enforcement team, said: “Businesses need to comply with the law and check their employees have the right to work in the UK.
“Using illegal labour is not victimless. It cheats the taxpayer, undercuts honest businesses and cheats legitimate job seekers of employment opportunities.”
Mr Ruof, who is British born, said his skilled chefs are all from India and Bangladesh.
“They have paperwork but they [immigration] have to check it,” he said tonight.
“They’re only doing their jobs but on a Friday for any restaurant in Bury, it’s busy. I had to go round explaining to my customers what the procedure was. It was a little bit heavy handed.”
He turned off the restaurant’s phones to stop incoming takeaway orders so they could concentrate on customers who had ordered.
Mr Ruof thanked his customers for their patience, adding: “The customers were nice enough to wait.”
You can report suspected immigration abuse at https://www.gov.uk/report-immigration-crime
Employers will find what checks they need to make and a right to work check tool at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/employers-illegal-working-penalties