A RESTAURANT is facing a fine of £80,000 after four illegal workers were found during a raid by immigration officers.

Immigration enforcement officers from the Home Office searched Aspera, in London Road, Benfleet, shortly after 5pm on Thursday.

The officers carried out checks and found four men were working illegally at the eatery.

They included two Kazakhstani men, aged 21 and 25, who had overstayed their visas, a 30-year-old Turkish man who was working in breach of his visa conditions and a 30-year-old Iranian man who was a failed asylum seeker.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Acting on Intelligence, Immigration Enforcement officers visited Aspera, London Road, Benfleet, Essex, at 5.05pm on Thursday.

“Checks identified that four men were working illegally.

“The youngest men and the Turkish national were transferred to immigration detention pending their removal from the UK, while the Iranian man was ordered to report to immigration enforcement regularly while his case is progressed.”

He added: “The business was served a civil penalty referral notice warning that a financial penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker found will be imposed unless the employer can demonstrate that appropriate right-to-work document checks were carried out.

“If proof is not provided, this is a potential total of up to £80,000.

A dad-of-two from Benfleet who witnessed the raid, said: “It was obvious what was happening, I’ve never seen anything like it before.

“I am surprised as didn’t think that sort of thing goes on around here. We’ve been to this restaurant a few times and it’s always been very nice indeed.

“The four men were put into a van and there were staff speaking with the officers.”

The restaurant was contacted for comment but did not respond to any of the information supplied by the Home office.