Thirty-five immigration offenders arrested

12 December 2014

A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and joint operations codenamed "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force on December 9 to 11 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 32 illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Twilight" on December 10, officers of the Immigration Task Force raided three target locations, namely a retail shop, a food processing centre and the area around a Star Ferry pier. Six illegal workers comprising four men and two women aged 27 to 52 were arrested. Two men and one woman aged 33 to 60 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During the three-day operation "Windsand", 10 men and 16 women aged 20 to 69 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Choi Fai Street and Ka Fu Close in Sheung Shui and Castle Peak Road - San Tin in Lok Ma Chau. The goods included red wine, milk powder, daily necessities, skin care products, cosmetics, food and electronic products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 1 630 Mainlanders and 14 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 210 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 1 420 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 200 out of 210 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to three months, one is pending court hearing and charges were withdrawn for another nine people.

"Visitors are not allowed to take up employment in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid, without the permission of the Director of Immigration. Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years' imprisonment. Aiders and abettors are also liable to prosecution and penalties. The Immigration Department will continue to take enforcement action with related law enforcement departments against the offences concerned," an Immigration Department spokesman said.

The spokesman appealed to employers not to employ illegal workers, warning that it is an offence to employ people who are not lawfully employable. The maximum penalty is a fine of $350,000 and imprisonment for three years. It is also an offence if an employer fails to inspect the job seeker's identity card or, if the job seeker does not have a Hong Kong permanent identity card, his or her valid travel document. The maximum penalty for failing to do so is a fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for one year. To deter unlawful employment, the High Court laid down sentencing guidelines in 2004 reaffirming that it is a serious offence to employ someone who is not legally employable, and stating that the employer of an illegal worker should be given an immediate custodial sentence.