TWO Ringwood firms and one in Fordingbridge were among six businesses from Hampshire fined tens of thousands of pounds after being caught employing illegal workers.

The Indian Tree, in Market Place, Ringwood, was fined £25,000, after being raided on June 7 last year.

Chinatown Takeaway in Southampton Road, Ringwood, was fined £15,000 and Surma Valley Indian Cuisine, in Fording-bridge, was also fined £15,000.

The UK Border Agency brought the action, which has resulted in fines totalling £77,000 across the county.

Nine illegal immigrants caught working at the companies have been deported from the UK as a result of the raids.

All six firms were given the chance to prove that the correct right-to-work checks had been carried out on their staff, after being caught out during visits last summer.

But none of the businesses were able to show that the regulation tests were carried out on their foreign workers.

Agency officials are also investigating eight other people who were found to be working in the county illegally.

Carla Johnson from the UK Border Agency said: “Our officers carry out regular operations throughout Hampshire to target unscrupulous employers who hire illegal workers.

“Illegal working is not a victimless crime as it cheats the taxpayer, undercuts honest employers and potentially exploits vulnerable people.

“It also deprives legitimate job hunters of employment opportunities.

“As these fines show, any employer involved in this sort of activity can expect to pay a heavy financial penalty.

“We are happy to work with businesses and advise what checks need to be carried out.”

In 2012, the agency served more than 1,200 penalty notices on employers, collecting more than £6million in fines.

Prosecutions take place in cases where employers knowingly and deliberately use illegal migrant workers, often for personal financial gain.

The offence carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and an unlimited fine.

The manager of Chinatown, Yan Leung, said he took over the takeaway after it was visited in June.

Mr Leung said he spoke to UK Border Agency staff in September and they were satisfied that illegal workers were no longer employed there.