Twenty-six immigration offenders arrested

29 July 2016

The Immigration Department mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations including an operation codenamed "Twilight" and a series of joint operations with other law enforcement agencies codenamed "Champion" and "Windsand" on July 27 and yesterday (July 28) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 18 illegal workers and eight suspected employers were arrested.
 
During operation "Twilight", Immigration Task Force officers raided 11 target locations including a massage centre, a warehouse, restaurants, a construction site and a residential building under renovation. Eight illegal workers and six employers were arrested. The eight illegal workers comprised six men and two women aged 34 to 43. Among them, three men and one woman were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment, while four men and one woman were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. Meanwhile, four men and two women aged 43 to 67 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
 
During operations "Champion", enforcement officers raided eight target locations including restaurants, an office and factory units in North Point and Chai Wan districts. Three illegal workers and two employers were arrested. The illegal workers are female aged 43 to 52. Among them, two women were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. Meanwhile, one man and one woman aged 43 and 48 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
 
During operations "Windsand", seven Mainland visitors comprising three men and four women aged 33 to 67 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Po Wan Road in Sheung Shui and Lok Ma Chau Road in Lok Ma Chau. The goods included milk powder, wine, medicine, daily necessities, cosmetics and vehicle components.
 
Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2 951 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 2 720 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 221 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.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 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.