Twelve immigration offenders arrested

13 Nov 2015

The Immigration Department mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations including joint operations with other law enforcement agencies, codenamed "Champion" and "Windsand", yesterday (November 12) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 11 illegal workers and one suspected employer were arrested.

During the anti-illegal worker operation, officers of the Immigration Task Force raided a stall and an office. Two illegal workers and one employer were arrested. The two illegal workers comprised one male and one female aged 38 to 45. One woman aged 28 was suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided 14 target locations including a bookshop, restaurants and residential flats under renovation in Tsim Sha Tsui. Six illegal workers were arrested. The six illegal workers comprised two men and four women aged 27 to 60. Among them, one man was a holder of a recognisance form, which prohibits employment, and two women were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards.

During operation "Windsand", three Mainland visitors comprising one man and two women aged 52 to 64 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, food and skincare products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2,574 Mainlanders and 15 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 223 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay while the remaining 2,351 people were repatriated. Of those prosecuted, 212 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to three months, one is pending court hearing, and charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.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.