Thirty-three immigration offenders arrested

22 April 2015

The Immigration Department mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations including an anti-illegal worker operation and joint operations with other law enforcement agencies, codenamed "Powerplayer", "Champion" and "Windsand", yesterday (April 21) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 27 illegal workers and six suspected employers were arrested.

During the anti-illegl worker operation, officers of the Immigration Task Force raided five target locations including restaurants and a unit under renovation. Three illegal workers and one employer were arrested. The three illegal workers comprised two men and one woman aged 28 to 40. Among them, one man and one woman were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. One man aged 72 was suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Powerplayer", enforcement officers raided 43 target locations including warehouses, recycling depots and second-hand trading stalls in the Yuen Long, Lau Fau Shan, Lok Ma Chau, Pak Heung and Tai Po districts. Fifteen illegal workers and three employers were arrested. The fifteen illegal workers comprised 13 men and two women aged 21 to 60. Among them, 11 men were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit employment. One man and two women aged 29 to 51 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided 14 target locations including restaurants, a food stall, a unit under renovation, hostels and a tailor shop in the Yau Ma Tei and Tsim Sha Tsui districts. Five illegal workers and two employers were arrested. The five illegal workers comprised two men and three women aged 20 to 49. Among them, two men and two women were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. One man and one woman aged 43 and 60 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Windsand", four Mainland visitors comprising two men and two women aged 43 to 76 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Po Wan Road in Sheung Shui. The goods involved milk powder, food, red wine and skin-care products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2,148 Mainlanders and 14 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 216 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay while the remaining 1,932 people were repatriated. Of those prosecuted, 205 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 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.