No escape for restaurant directors who employed illegal workers
The directors of six restaurants from Lincolnshire to West Sussex who put their businesses into liquidation to avoid paying fines for employing illegal workers have received lengthy bans following separate investigations by the Insolvency Service.
The restaurants based in Spalding, King’s Lynn, London, Bristol, Redhill and Horsham, employed 20 illegal workers between them and were fined in 2013 and 2014 after Home Office Immigration Enforcement found them to be employing illegal workers. The businesses were all subsequently put into liquidation with the fines left unpaid.
In total nine people have been banned from being company directors or being involved in the management of companies for between six and eight years.
Vicky Bagnall, Director of Investigation and Enforcement, said:
Employing illegal workers is not a victimless crime. These directors sought an unfair advantage over their competitors by employing people under the radar who were not entitled to work legally in the UK.
It is not acceptable to use the insolvency process to escape legal sanctions. This action is a warning to other employers that if you flout the law, there will be consequences.
The disqualified directors are:
- Akhtar Zaman, 48, the sole registered director of Rajkumar Restaurant, Horsham, disqualified for eight years
- Irina Kandel Sapkota, 33, the director of Everest Spice, Redhill, disqualified for six years
- Sitar Ahmed, 62, the director of Ahmed Tandoori Restaurant, Wimbledon, disqualified for six years
- Mohammed Liton Miah, 28, the director of India Gate Restaurant, Kings Lynn, disqualified for seven years
- Kahir Uddin Chowdhury and Bedar Chowdhury, the directors of Cinnamon Resturant, Bristol, both disqualified for six years
- Abu Rasel, 40, and Fazlul Haque, 29, the directors of Tulip Tandoori, Spalding, both disqualified for six years
Notes to editors
Akhtar Zaman, is of Horsham and his date of birth is 26 February 1968.
He was the sole registered director of Sadiq-Nishat UK Limited, which was incorporated in 2009 and traded as an Indian restaurant from Horsham, West Sussex.
Akhtar Zaman’s disqualification follows collaboration between the Insolvency Service and Home Office Immigration Enforcement (formerly UK Border Agency). The matters leading to his disqualification include that:
- having inspected the premises of Rajkumar Restaurant in May 2013, UK Border Agency officials found six illegal workers and imposed a penalty of £30,000
- after having been visited, Akhtar Zaman made three transfer payments of almost £13,000 to himself within a two week period during June 2013 and failed to provide any explanations when requested. The company did not pay the £30,000 penalty imposed by the UK Border Agency and ceased trading in November 2013
- at liquidation in March 2014, the company had a recorded deficiency in excess of £73,000 including £30,000 which was owed to the UK Border Agency in respect of the penalty imposed for employing illegal workers
Irina Kandel Sapkota is of Surrey and her date of birth is 14 January 1983.
She was the director of 2A Restaurants Limited (CRO No. 07911040) which was incorporated on 19 February 2013 and went into creditors’ voluntary liquidation on 18 May 2015. Its registered office was at 39 Holland Close, Redhill, Surrey RH1 1HT. The business, a Nepalese and Indian restaurant trading as Everest Spice, went into liquidation on 10 February 2015 owing £45,985 to creditors.
The unfitness which resulted in the undertaking was that Mrs Sapkota failed to ensure that 2A Restaurants Limited complied with immigration law resulting in the employment of three illegal workers. Following a visit from Home Office Immigration Officers on 8 July 2014, during which this breach was discovered, the company was fined a civil penalty of £30,000 by Home Office Immigration Enforcement (HOIE). The company raised an objection but this was rejected by HOIE and the fine remained in place. The company failed to make any payment to HOIE.
Sitar Ahmed is of London and his date of birth is 10 April 1954.
He was the sole director of Amader Shodesh Limited (CRO No. 07527679) which was incorporated on 14 February 2011. Its registered office was at 2 The Broadway, London SW19 1RF. The business traded as Ahmed Tandoori Restaurant, Wimbledon and went into liquidation on 11 November 2014 owing £47,747 to creditors.
The matters of unfitness which resulted in the undertaking were:
- Mr Ahmed failed to ensure that Amader Shodesh Limited complied with immigration law with the result that it employed one illegal worker. Following a visit from HOIE on 8 February 2013, during which this breach was discovered, the company was fined a civil penalty of £5,000 by Home Office Immigration Enforcement. The company could not pay the fine and ceased trading in April 2013 without making any payment to HOIE
- Mr Ahmed made a false statement on an application to Companies House that could have resulted in the company being dissolved
Mohammed Liton Miah is of London and his date of birth is 16 October 1987.
India Gate Restaurant Limited (CRO No. 05899161) was incorporated on 8 August 2006 and went into creditors’ voluntary liquidation on 28 August 2014. Its registered office was at 41 St James Street, King’s Lynn, Norfolk PE30 5BZ.
The matter of unfitness which resulted in the undertaking was that Mr Miah caused India Gate Restaurant to fail to comply with immigration law by employing two illegal workers. Following a visit from Home Office Immigration Officers, during which this breach was discovered, the company was fined a civil penalty of £10,000 by HOIE on 6 June 2014. The company failed to make any payment to HOIE before it went into liquidation.
Bedar Chowdhury (date of birth is May 1970) and Kahir Uddin Chowdhury (date of birth December 1964) are of Bristol.
Jamuna Restaurant Limited (CRO 07672269) was incorporated on 16 June 2011. Its registered office was 13 Rockwell Avenue, Kingsworth, Bristol, BS11 0UF. It traded from premises at 68 High St, Keynsham, Bristol, BS31 1EA.
The then Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills accepted undertakings from Kahir and Bedar Chowdhury on 23 May 2016, for 6 years each from 13 June 2016.
The matters relating to their disqualifications were:
- on 17 July 2015 Home Office Immigration Enforcement officers visited the Cinnamon Restaurant. During the visit the Home Office discovered four illegal workers
- on 8 September 2015, the Home Office issued Jamuna with a civil penalty for £40,000. The starting fine is £15,000 for each illegal worker, but this was reduced to £10,000 as the company had co-operated. The company did not pay the fine
- the Home Office referred the case to the Insolvency Service to consider disqualification action against the directors
- on 26 January 2016 the directors placed the company into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation. The company did not have sufficient assets so the fine remained unpaid
Abu Rasel (date of birth 13 January 1976) is of Holbeach, Lincolnshire and Fazlul Haque (date of birth 17 October 1986) is of Plaistow, London.
They were the sole directors of Sogor Ltd. (CRO 07742221) which was incorporated on 16 August 2011 and traded as Tulip Tandoori from 2 Pinchbeck Road, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE11 1QD. Sogor entered liquidation on 17 December 2014 with an estimated deficiency of £45,277.
The Secretary of State accepted undertakings of six years from Mr Rael (on 13 April 2016) and Mr Haque (on 22 July 2016)
The matter of unfitness which neither director disputed was that they caused Sogor Limited to fail to comply with immigration law by employing four illegal workers. Following a visit from Home Office Immigration Officers on 27 March 2014, during which this breach was discovered, the company was issued with a penalty notice in the sum of £20,000 which remained outstanding at liquidation.
A disqualification order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:
- act as a director of a company
- take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
- be a receiver of a company’s property
Persons subject to a disqualification order are also bound by a range of other restrictions.
Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings.
Further information on director disqualifications and restrictions is available.
The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.
Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.
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Published: 25 August 2016
From: The Insolvency Service