SIX Hampshire firms have been fined tens of thousands of pounds after being caught employing illegal workers.
The UK Border Agency has revealed a blacklist of six businesses from across the county which have been slapped with financial penalties totalling more than £77,000.
All six firms were given the chance to prove that the correct right-to-work checks had been carried out on their staff, after being caught out during visits last summer.
But none of the businesses were able to show that the regulation tests were carried out on their foreign workers.
The Indian Tree, in Market Place, Ringwood, received the biggest fine of £25,000, after being raided on June 7 2012.
Owners of the Rivaaz restaurant, in Station Road, New Milton, were hit with a £17,500 penalty after they were found to be employing illegal immigrants.
Chinatown Takeaway, in Southampton Road, Ringwood, was fined £15,000, while Peking Garden Chinese takeaway, in Lodge Road, Southampton, had to pay £5,000.
Surma Valley Indian Cuisine, in Fordingbridge, was fined the same sum, while The Car Wash, in Grange Road, Gosport, has been forced to pay a £10,000 penalty.
As well as the fines and the removal of nine illegal immigrant workers, UK Border Agency officials are currently investigating eight other people who were found to be working in the county illegally.
Carla Johnson from the UK Border Agency said: “Our officers carry out regular operations throughout Hampshire to target unscrupulous employers who hire illegal workers.
“Illegal working is not a victimless crime as it cheats the taxpayer, undercuts honest employers and potentially exploits some of society’s most vulnerable people.
“It also deprives legitimate job hunters of employment opportunities.
“As these fines show, any employer involved in this sort of activity can expect to pay a heavy financial penalty.
“We are happy to work with businesses and advise what checks need to be carried out on staff.
“However, those who choose to break the law should expect a visit from our officers and to pay a heavy penalty.”
In 2012, the agency served more than 1,200 penalty notices on employers, collecting more than £6 million in penalty fines.
Prosecutions take place in cases where rogue employers knowingly and deliberately use illegal migrant workers, often for personal financial gain.
The offence carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and an unlimited fine.
Last night the Daily Echo attempted to contact all six businesses.
Mohammed Abdur Rahman, boss at Rivaaz, claimed he “didn’t know” that members of staff were illegal immigrants when he employed them.
The manager of Chinatown, Yan Leung, told the Daily Echo he took over the takeaway after it was visited in June.
Mr Leung said he spoke to UK Border Agency staff in September and they were satisfied that illegal workers were no longer employed there.
The other four businesses did not return the Daily Echo’s calls.