Rajput Indian restaurant trafficked chefs.

Posted: March 30, 2010 in British jobs for British workers, Law & Disorder


The owners of the prestigious Rajput Indian restaurant in Harrogate, were found guilty on Friday 26 March, of a conspiracy to traffic their own chefs into the UK and deliberately exploit them for financial gain.

In a case led by our Yorkshire immigration crime team, chef Shahnawaz Ali Khan once described by Asian Express as the ‘Indian Jamie Oliver’, his brother Raza Ali Khan and their mother, Parveen Khan, were all found guilty of trafficking up to nine members of staff, following a three month trial at Leeds Crown Court.

The case began after three of the workers came forward reporting that they had been exploited and asking for help. This led to an investigation, Operation Keepnet, being launched by the joint UK Border Agency immigration crime tea.

Their investigations revealed a catalogue of exploitation of workers at the Rajput restaurant dating back to 2004 and saw them execute an operation in November 2008 at the restaurant, where officers uncovered a further three victims as well as arresting the three people convicted.

The three convicted were all found to be complicit in the business’s day-to-day running and therefore involvement with trafficking their workers. Brothers Shahnawaz Ali and Raza Ali Khan served as directors, Shahnawaz looked after the work permits and visas whilst Raza was in charge of pay. Their mother, Parveen was found to be closely involved in the running of the restaurant and assisted with obtaining work permits and documentation for their workers.

Following the operation officers from the UK Border Agency’s immigration crime team uncovered a further three staff that had also been trafficked into the UK for exploitation bringing the total to nine.

Many of the staff were previously working in prestigious restaurants in the Middle East, India and Pakistan, and had accepted offers to come and work legitimately at the Rajput, signing formal work contracts and obtaining work visas. However, on arrival to the UK legally, they promptly had their passports taken from them by one of the defendants and then put them to work at the Rajput for up to 14 hours a day, seven days a week.

The nine staff, all from either Pakistan or India, claimed they were effectively barred from moving around freely, forced to share accommodation with other staff and transported to work by their employers so they could not abscond. In one incident an employee had their visa and photo ripped out of their passport. All received little or no money for their work.

The Rajput were the target of a successful illegal working operation in December last year where three illegal workers were uncovered.

This separate operation by officers to the Rajput Restaurant in Harrogate in December 2009 was unrelated to Operation Keepnet and concerned intelligence around illegal working. The operation saw the employers served with a penalty notice for up to £30,000 for employing three illegal workers. There was no suspicion that these workers had been trafficked.

Of the nine victims who were exploited in this case, three have returned home and six have remained in the UK legally.

A sentencing date has yet to be set.

  1. kasim shivkar says:

    I am the victim of khans I am in oman working at 5*hotel I am happy with my current employer and working as a food & beverage manager I am now more than happy rather than UK, the khans deserve to go to prison very long time

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