A date has been set for the sentence of the owners of a chain of Chinese restaurants who employed illegal immigrants more than two years after they were convicted.
Cousins Martin and Kevin Lai will return to Exeter Crown Court two days before Christmas for a complex sentencing and confiscation hearing.
They were found guilty of employing illegal workers at their Devon take-aways in a series of four raids by immigrations officials, including one filmed by a BBC crew.
They were warned they could face heavy fines and confiscation of assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act after a jury at Exeter Crown Court convicted them of four of the eleven charges in December 2011.
The case follows the most high profile investigation by the Plymouth based unit of the Border Agency which in itself took six years to bring to court.
The pair have been waiting to be sentenced since December 2011 pending a complicated financial investigation.
Martin Lai, who runs restaurants in Exmouth and Exeter, is a leading member of the Chinese community in Britain and chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Chinese Association.
He is also one of Britain’s best known powerboat racers whose Ocean Dragon team competes in P1 and endurance races all over the world and he appears regularly on satellite sports coverage.
Martin and Kevin Lai did not give evidence but their lawyers argued they had been confused by the chaos in the immigration service which led to some illegals being returned to work rather than deported.
The prosecution said the men were aware of the dangers because of the earlier raids but chose to flout the law.
Their businesses in Exeter and Torquay were found with a total of 11 illegal immigrants during the four raids between 2006 and 2008.
One of those arrested even carried an official card which was marked with the words ‘employment prohibited’ and others had absconded after previously being ordered out of Britain.
Martin Lai, aged 48, of Cranford Avenue, Exmouth, and Kevin Lai, aged 40, of Tor Hill Road, Torquay, denied a total of eleven charges of assisting unlawful immigration by employing illegals.
They were both found guilty of two offences and cleared of the rest. Each case related to a different worker.
Judge Phillip Wassall adjourned sentence in 2011 to await the outcome of an application under the Proceeds of Crime Act but said he was not considering custody.
The Judge granted an extension of the two year limit on confiscation cases to allow the next hearing to take place on December 23 this year.
It is expected to last all day because the defendants dispute how much they benefitted by employing the two illegal workers and the assets available to pay any confiscation order.
All the charges in the 2011 case related to raids at the Imperial China in Cowick Street, Exeter; the Oriental City in Station Road, Pinhoe, Exeter, and China Blue in Tor Hill, Torquay.
During a three week trial the jury at Exeter Crown Court was told they were joint or individual owners of the restaurants and knew employees needed permission both to live and to work in Britain.
They should have checked and copied either a passport or a document called an application registration card which shows a migrant is allowed to work.
Neither men gave evidence but defence counsel argued they had been confused by the system and believed they were acting within the law because all the employees had valid National Insurance numbers and P45s and all paid tax.
Some of them were arrested once, then detained, then released back to the restaurant, leading them to believe they had been cleared to carry on working.