Restaurateur faces jail for illegal worker scam

IPSWICH: The owner of two Chinese restaurants and three members of his family today face possible jail terms after being convicted of employing illegal foreign workers.

Twenty Chinese and Malaysian illegal immigrants were found during raids at the Temptation Chinese Buffet in Carr Street, Ipswich, and the Lucky Star Takeaway in Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich, which were owned by 47-year-old Phing Pun, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Yesterday, after a trial lasting more than nine weeks, Phing Pun, his wife Kim Wong, 46, of Penn Close, Capel St Mary, their son Yung Pun, 28, daughter Siow Yin Pun, 27, both of Silk Street, Ipswich, and family friend Ai Vee Ong, 31, of Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich, were found guilty of conspiring to facilitate the breach of UK immigration law. They had denied the charge.

Phing Pun, Siow Yin Pun and Ai Vee Ong were also convicted of selling goods which infringed copyright or trademark, while Phing Pun, Kim Wong, Siow Yin Pun, Yung Pun and Ai Vee Ong were further convicted of converting criminal property.

Phing Pun was also found guilty of obtaining a �198,000 money transfer by deception and his son was convicted of an offence of fraud. They had denied all the charges.

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Following the guilty verdicts, Stuart Cooper, from the UK Border Agency’s Immigration Crime Team, accused them of treating the UK’s immigration rules with contempt and thinking they were above the law.

“By employing illegal foreign labour they were cheating the taxpayer, undermining their law-abiding business competitors and getting rich off the back of it. This is not the end of it. We are also working to ensure that they lose the proceeds from their crimes,” he said.

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Judge Peter Thompson adjourned the case until April 20 for pre-sentence reports and warned the defendants that prison sentences would be the likely outcome in most cases.

Siow Chee Pun, 24, Phing Pun’s other daughter, also of Silk Street, denied conspiring to sell goods which infringed copyright or trademark and was found not guilty.

During the trial, the court heard that Pun had set off a fire alarm to frustrate the efforts of police and immigration officials who raided the premises of the Temptation Chinese Buffet searching for illegal immigrant workers in October 2007.

As the alarm went off, members of staff started removing hats and jackets they had been wearing as part of their uniform and tried to make their escape.

Footage from CCTV cameras at the premises which captured the scenes as police officers and immigration officials entered the restaurant were shown to the court.

Karim Khalil QC, prosecuting, told the jury that the illegal workers were housed in two properties in Silk Street, Ipswich, which had been purchased by Phing Pun and Yung Pun with money obtained by fraudulent mortgage applications.

The court also heard that Phing Pun, Siow Yin Pun and Ai Vee Ong had been involved in the sale of counterfeit goods at shop premises called Temptations Accessories Ltd in Ipswich and Colchester. Brand names included Walt Disney, Hello Kitty, Nike, Playboy, Coco Chanel and items included handbags, earrings, purses and hair accessories.

During the trial, all the defendants chose not to give evidence.

n Have you been the victim of fraud? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@evening

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