Businesses in Sunderland are facing substantial fines for employing illegal immigrant workers, it has been revealed.
UK Border Agency (UKBA) officers arrested three people and dismissed another from employment after investigations found that they had no right to be working in this country.
After receiving intelligence reports, the officers conducted checks on staff at Oriental House restaurant and Fortune Oriental Foods store. They discovered a 40-year-old Chinese woman at the restaurant and arrested her on suspicion of absconding from immigration restrictions.
A Chinese man, who as a failed asylum seeker did not have permission to work, was also dismissed from employment, while a further two Chinese men were arrested at the shop on suspicion of absconding from immigration restrictions.
The businesses are now facing potential fines of £10,000 per illegal worker if they are unable to prove that the correct right-to-work checks were conducted before the individuals were employed.
Wallace Wilson, local immigration team manager for the UKBA in Northumbria, commented on the cases: "We will come down hard on those employers who seek to abuse immigration law. Our message to employers could not be clearer.
"No matter where you are, if you chose to use illegal labour we will find you and we will take action."
He added that the agency makes use of intelligence from the public in order to track down illegal workers in the area. "We also have the resources to carry out action as a result of this intelligence," Mr Wilson warned.