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Indian Tree in Ringwood fined £10,000 for using illegal workers after Home Office raid

A Ringwood restaurant whose owners were previously fined £175,000 for using illegal workers has been slapped with another £10,000 penalty.

Indian Tree in Market Place appeared on a list of businesses caught breaking employment laws during a Home Office raid between October and December last year.

Gold Leaf Restaurant Ltd, which was incorporated as a private limited company on 13th July, 2022 to run Indian Tree, is responsible for paying the latest £10,000 fine.

The Indian Tree restaurant in Ringwood
The Indian Tree restaurant in Ringwood

As reported in the A&T, NFDC’s licensing sub-committee was told last March there had been “serious” breaches of regulations at the Indian Tree under its then-owner Adib Bacchu.

The sub-committee heard Mr Bacchu’s business had been fined a total of £175,000 by the Home Office for using illegal workers, but only £2,000 of those fines had been paid.

During the NFDC meeting, councillors heard Mr Bacchu had his alcohol licence revoked following a “pattern of unacceptable behaviour” on his part and “serious” breaches of regulations, including leaving fire escapes blocked.

Committee members said they had “no choice” but to revoke the business’s alcohol licence after hearing Mr Bacchu had flouted the rules for a “sustained” period and shown “serious disregard” as a licensed premises owner.

After NFDC stripped Mr Bacchu of his alcohol licence, he told the A&T he had done “nothing wrong” despite having been found employing 14 workers illegally.

At the time, Mr Bacchu told the A&T: “I am not responsible for the fines. They were given when I was sub-letting the restaurant to other people. The way it looks is not the way it is.”

Following the latest Home Office raid on the business last winter, another £10,000 has been issued against Gold Leaf as the operator for Indian Tree.

Companies House records show Mr Bacchu’s wife Rujina Begum as the 75% shareowner of Gold Leaf. Companies House lists her as both a “filter officer” and person with “significant control” of the business.

Providing background information to the A&T, a Home Office spokesperson said: “The Indian Tree has been fined £175,000 after a range of breaches related to illegal working. Illegal working causes untold harm to our communities, cheating honest workers out of employment, putting vulnerable people at risk, and defrauding the public purse.

“Illegal working visits increased by 73% in 2023 compared with 2022 with overall arrests from enforcement visits in 2023 more than doubling in comparison with 2022. We are also removing those with no right to be in the UK.”

The spokesperson continued: “If a penalty remains unpaid, we engage third-party specialists who use various debt recovery strategies, including legal action, to pursue payment though the courts.”

The civil penalty for employing illegal workers was increased on 13th February this year, meaning employers can now be issued with a penalty of up to £60,000 per worker.

The Indian Tree has been approached for comment.

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