Shoreditch company faces possible bill of £140k over ‘illegal workers’

The American Car Wash franchise in Great Eastern Street

The American Car Wash franchise in Great Eastern Street - Credit: Vickie Flores/Archant

A car wash company is facing a £140,000 fine after immigration enforcement officers arrested seven alleged illegal workers there.

Acting on intelligence, the Home Office officials visited American Car Wash in Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, just after 6am last Tuesday.

Staff were questioned to establish whether they had the right to live and work in the UK and the Home Office said seven men were found to be working illegally.

A Home Office spokesman said this included a 31-year-old Bangladeshi national who was found to be working in breach of his student visa, a 36-year-old, also from Bangladesh, who had overstayed his student visa, a 33-year-old Ugandan national who was allegedly a failed asylum seeker and a 36-year-old Ghanaian man who was working in breach of his visa conditions.

The spokesman also said a 29-year-old from Ghana was found to be working in breach of his business visit visa and a 44-year-old Zimbabwean was found to be working in breach of his student visit visa, while a Nigerian man, aged 45, had no visa and there was no evidence of his leave to enter the UK.

All those arrested were transferred to immigration detention pending removal from the UK, apart from the 31-year old Bangladeshi and the Zimbabwean who have been ordered to report to the Home Office regularly while steps are taken to remove them.

The business will be served a notice warning that financial penalties of up to £20,000 per illegal worker arrested will be imposed, unless they can demonstrate that appropriate right to work document checks were carried out – like seeing a passport or Home Office document.

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If proof is not provided, this is a potential total of up to £140,000.

Assistant director David Seymour-Smith, head of the North London Home Office immigration enforcement team, said: “Illegal working defrauds the taxpayer, undercuts honest businesses and cheats legitimate job seekers out of employment opportunities.

A spokesman from Secure Valeting said: “The car cleaners at Great Eastern Street are self-employed franchisees and are not employed by American Car Wash or Secure Valeting.”