Fourteen immigration offenders arrested

22  June 2016

The Immigration Department mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations, including joint operations with other law enforcement agencies codenamed "Champion" and "Windsand", on June 20 and 21 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 12 illegal workers and two suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided three target locations including a restaurant, a refuse collection point and a warehouse in Kwai Chung district and Central district. Three illegal workers and two employers were arrested. The illegal workers comprised two men and one woman aged from 31 to 36. One of the men was a holder of a recognisance form, which prohibits him from taking any employment, while the other man was suspected of being in possession of and using a forged Hong Kong identity card. Two women aged 37 and 66 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Windsand", nine Mainland visitors comprising seven men and two women aged 30 to 52 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at San Wan Road and Cambridge Plaza in Sheung Shui and Castle Peak Road - San Tin in Lok Ma Chau. The goods included milk powder, food, skin care products and electronic products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2 884 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 231 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 2 652 people were repatriated and one is under investigation. Among those prosecuted, 221 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.

"Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of him or her shall be guilty of an offence. Also, 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, as stipulated in section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order are prohibited from taking any employment, whether paid or unpaid, or establishing or joining in any business. Offenders are liable upon conviction 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 Hong Kong identity card or a Hong Kong identity card related to another person. 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.