Twenty-six immigration offenders arrested

30 Oct 2015

A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a series of joint operations codenamed "Windsand", "Champion" and "Powerplayer" were mounted by the Immigration Department and other law enforcement agencies from October 27 to 29 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 24 illegal workers and two suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Windsand" conducted on October 27, 10 Mainland visitors comprising six men and four women aged from 23 to 64 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Ka Fu Close, San Wan Road in Sheung Shui and Castle Peak Road-San Tin in Lok Ma Chau. The goods involved milk powder, red wine, skin-care products, daily necessities, electronic components and electronic products.

During "Champion" operations conducted on October 27 and 29, enforcement officers raided 36 target locations including restaurants, stalls and residential flats under renovation in Causeway Bay, Central, Mong Kok and Yau Tsim districts. Six illegal workers and one employer were arrested. The six illegal workers comprised four male and two females aged from 26 to 35. Among them, three men were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. One woman aged 34 was suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Twilight" conducted on October 28, officers of the Immigration Task Force raided eight target locations including restaurants, a car park, a massage centre, an office, an exhibition centre and a theatre. Two illegal workers were arrested. The two illegal workers comprised one male and one female aged from 24 to 48. They were suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card.

During operation "Powerplayer" conducted in New Territories North on October 29, enforcement officers raided 22 target locations including warehouses and recycling depots. Six illegal workers and one employer were arrested. The six male illegal workers were aged from 22 to 45. Among them, two men were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. One man aged 40 was suspected of employing the illegal workers.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2,549 Mainlanders and 15 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 222 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 2,327 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 211 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," 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 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.