A HAMPSHIRE restaurant could face a fine of up to £120,000 for employing illegal workers.

A Home Office raid at the Jarna Indian restaurant on Christchurch Road, New Milton saw three Bangladeshi men arrested as staff were questioned over whether they had the right to live and work in the UK.

Two of the men, aged 26 and 28, had overstayed their visas while a 29-year-old man was found to be a failed asylum seeker.

Another three men, aged 29, 45 and 60 were found to have no permission to work and escorted from the premises.

The men aged 26 and 29 who were arrested have been transferred to immigration detention pending removal from the UK.

The 28-year-old has been placed on immigration bail while his case is progressed and also faces removal if found to have no right to remain in the UK.

The business was served with a notice warning that a financial penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker found will be imposed unless the employer can demonstrate that appropriate pre-employment checks were carried out, such as seeing a passport or Home Office document.

Assistant Director Carla Johnson, head of the South Central Home Office Immigration Enforcement team, said: “We will not tolerate illegal working, and our officers carry out regular operations across Hampshire to tackle abuse of the system.

“Some businesses may feel that hiring illegal workers is harmless, but they are wrong.

“It defrauds the taxpayer, undercuts honest employers and often exploits some of society’s most vulnerable people. It also means legitimate job hunters are starved of opportunities.

“The message is clear. Although we are happy to assist businesses and advise them on what checks need to be carried out on staff, employers who flout the rules will be punished and could face a heavy penalty.”

No-one was available for comment at the Jarna restaurant.