Sixteen immigration offenders arrested

26 March 2015

A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a joint operation codenamed "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force yesterday (March 25) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 13 illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Twilight", officers of the Immigration Task Force raided eight target locations including a poultry company, a restaurant, an elderly home, a cleaning company and garment factories. Eight illegal workers comprising six men and two women aged 40 to 50 were arrested. Two men and one woman aged 42 to 64 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Windsand", five women aged 40 to 58 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. The goods included milk powder, daily necessities, food, skin-care products, red wine, mobile phones and other electronic products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2,035 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 and one is under investigation, while the remaining 1,820 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 204 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to three months, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.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.