Sixteen immigration offenders arrested

19 January 2016

A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a joint operation codenamed "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force yesterday (January 18) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 13 illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Twilight", officers of the Immigration Task Force raided restaurants, an office and a retail shop. Three illegal workers comprising one man and two women aged 30 to 48 were arrested. Two men and one woman aged 32 to 48 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Windsand", 10 Mainland visitors comprising six men and four women aged 20 to 50 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at San Wan Road in Sheung Shui. The goods included milk powder, food, skincare products and daily necessities.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2 687 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 226 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay and one is under investigation, while the remaining 2 460 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 216 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to three months, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.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 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.