Nine immigration offenders arrested

24 April 2015

The Immigration Department yesterday (April 23) arrested eight illegal workers and one suspected employer during a series of joint anti-illegal workers operations with other law enforcement agencies codenamed "Champion" and "Windsand".

During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided 14 target locations including restaurants, stalls and units under renovation in Mong Kok District. Two illegal workers and one suspected employer were arrested. The two illegal workers comprised a man and a woman aged 28 and 38 respectively. The man was a holder of recognisance form, which prohibits employment. The suspected employer was a 48-year-old male.

During operation "Windsand", six Mainland visitors comprising four men and two women aged 27 to 75 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading in Castle Peak Road - San Tin. The goods involved milk powder, food, daily necessities and perfume.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2,154 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 1,938 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205 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to three months, one is pending court hearing, and charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.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 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.