Forty-three immigration offenders arrested

13 February 2015

A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a series of joint enforcement operations codenamed "Powerplayer" and "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and other law enforcement agencies from February 10 to 12 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 37 illegal workers and six suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Twilight" conducted on February 12, officers of the Immigration Task Force raided six target locations including restaurants, retail shops, a market and a hostel. Five illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested. The five illegal workers comprise one man and four women aged 29 to 52. All were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. One man and two women aged 46 to 61 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Powerplayer" in the Kowloon East region conducted on February 10, enforcement officers raided eight target locations including a warehouse, a market, a recycling yard and restaurants in the Tseung Kwan O, Yau Tong and Kowloon Bay districts. Eight illegal workers comprising four men and four women aged 20 to 53 were arrested. Among them, two men and one woman were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards, and one of the two men was the holder of a recognisance form which prohibited employment. One man and two women aged 52 to 59 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

 During the three-day operation "Windsand", 24 Mainland visitors comprising 12 men and 12 women aged 22 to 67 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Tsun Wen Road and Pui To Road in Tuen Mun, Castle Peak Road - San Tin in Lok Ma Chau and Ka Fu Close and Po Wan Road in Sheung Shui. The goods involved milk powder, food, red wine, daily necessities, skin-care products and electronic products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 1,943 Mainlanders and 14 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 213 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay while the remaining 1,730 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 203 out of 213 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to three months and charges were withdrawn for another 10 people.

"Visitors are not allowed to take 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," an Immigration Department spokesman said.

The spokesman warned that it is an offence for illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order to take any employment or to establish or join in any business. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to three years' imprisonment. The Court of Appeal has issued a guideline ruling that a sentence of 15 months' imprisonment should be applied in such cases.

The spokesman also warned that it is an offence to use or possess a forged identity card. Offenders are liable to prosecution and a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and up to 10 years' imprisonment.

The spokesman also 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.