Thirteen immigration offenders arrested

20 January 2016

The Immigration Department yesterday (January 19) conducted a series of anti-illegal worker operations codenamed "Champion" and "Powerplayer" with the Hong Kong Police Force and the Labour Department. A total of 11 illegal workers and two suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided 12 target locations including restaurants, residential flats and factories in Tsuen Wan district. Three illegal workers comprising two men and one woman aged 27 to 58 were arrested. Among them, one man and one woman were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards.

During operation "Powerplayer", enforcement officers raided 46 target locations including restaurants, residential flats, guesthouses and an industrial building in Hunghom, Kowloon City, Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po, Tsim Sha Tsui and Yau Ma Tei districts. Eight illegal workers comprising six men and two women aged 24 to 39 were arrested. All six men were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment, and the two women were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. In addition, one man and one woman aged 28 to 33 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

"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 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.