Fourteen immigration offenders arrested

13 Aug 2015

A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and joint operations codenamed "Champion" and "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force on August 12 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 13 illegal workers and one suspected employer were arrested.

During operation "Twilight", officers of the Immigration Task Force raided three target locations including a jewellery store and beauty salons. Four illegal workers comprising two men and two women aged 26 to 39 were arrested.

During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided 16 target locations including a cargo terminal and a laundry factory in Tsing Yi. Two illegal workers and one employer were arrested. The two illegal workers were two women aged 31 and 39. Among them, one woman was the holder of a recognisance form which prohibits her from taking any employment. In addition, another woman was suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. One woman aged 37 was suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Windsand", seven Mainland visitors comprising five men and two women aged 23 to 65 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Sheung Shui Plaza and San Wan Road in Sheung Shui. The goods involved milk powder, food and electronic products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2 440 Mainlanders and 15 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 219 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay while the remaining 2 221 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 209 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to three months and charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.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.