Thirty-eight immigration offenders arrested

20 March 2015

Territory-wide enforcement operations codenamed "Twilight" and joint operations codenamed "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force on March 18 and 19 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 33 illegal workers and five suspected employers were arrested.

During the "Twilight" operations on March 18 and 19, officers of the Immigration Task Force raided six target locations including a stall, a restaurant, factory buildings and a temple. Eleven illegal workers comprising eight men and three women aged 26 to 63 were arrested. Three men and two women aged 27 to 63 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During the "Windsand" operations on March 18 and 19, nine men and 13 women aged 30 to 64 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Castle Peak Road - San Tin in Lok Ma Chau, Ka Fu Close in Sheung Shui and San Hop Lane in Tuen Mun. The goods included milk powder, diapers, clothes, daily necessities, food, skin-care products, red wine and electronic products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2,007 Mainlanders and 14 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 214 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 1,793 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 203 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to three months, one is pending court hearing and charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.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.