A restaurateur who ran an eaterie in Hampshire has been disqualified from acting as a director for seven years after he shut up shop to avoid a fine for employing illegal workers.
Syed Ahmad, the sole registered director of Hook Tandoori Limited, which traded as an Indian restaurant in Hook, Hampshire, was disqualified from 7 September 2016 for employing three workers who did not have the right to work in the UK.
His disqualification follows a collaboration between the Insolvency Service and Home Office Immigration Enforcement (formerly UK Border Agency).
Having inspected the premises of Hook Tandoori Limited in October 2013, UK Border Agency officials found three illegal workers and imposed a penalty of £15,000.
Less than one week following UK Border Agency officials visiting the restaurant Syed Ahmed made a series of regular payments to himself amounting to £15,000. The company did not pay the £15,000 penalty imposed by the UK Border Agency and ceased trading in January 2014.
At liquidation in January 2014, the company had a recorded deficiency in excess of £126,000 including £15,000 owed to the UK Border Agency in respect of the penalty imposed for employing three illegal workers.
The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (now The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) brought proceedings against Syed Ahmed and on 8th August 2016 the case was heard at Guildford County Court. Upon hearing the evidence, and with Mr Ahmed failing to appear in court, a seven year disqualification order was made against Mr Ahmed who was also ordered to pay costs being in excess of £4,600.
The disqualification order means that Syed Ahmed cannot be a director of a company whether directly or indirectly, or be involved in the management of a company in any way for the duration of his disqualification unless he has permission from court.
Commenting on the disqualification, Lawrence Zussman, Deputy Head of Investigations with the Insolvency Service said:
"The Insolvency Service rigorously pursues directors who fail to pay penalties imposed by the government for breaking employment and immigration laws. We have worked closely in this case with our colleagues at the Home Office to achieve this disqualification.
"The director sought to gain an unfair advantage over his competitors by employing individuals who did not have the right to work in the UK in breach of his duty as a director.
"The public has a right to expect that those who break the law will face the consequences. Running a limited company, means you have statutory protections as well as obligations. If you fail to comply with your obligations the Insolvency Service will investigate and you run the risk of being removed from the business environment."