Seventeen immigration offenders arrested

8 Jun 2017

The Immigration Department (ImmD) mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations, including operations codenamed "Twilight", and joint operations with the Hong Kong Police Force codenamed "Windsand", from June 5 to 7 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 13 illegal workers and four suspected employers were arrested.

During operations "Twilight", ImmD Task Force officers raided 10 target locations including restaurants, a food stall, a garbage depot, a retail shop and a residential building. Eight illegal workers and four employers were arrested. The illegal workers comprised three men and five women, aged 26 to 48. Among them, one man and three women were also suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. Meanwhile, one man and three women, aged 42 to 76, were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

Furthermore, during operations "Windsand", five Mainland visitors comprising two men and three women, aged 22 to 53, were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Po Wan Road in Sheung Shui district and Castle Peak Road - San Tin in Lok Ma Chau district. The goods included skincare products, electronic products and electronic components.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 3 284 Mainlanders and 18 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 233 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 3 051 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 222 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months, and charges were withdrawn for the other 11 people.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 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. Aiders and abettors are also liable to prosecution and penalties," an ImmD spokesman said.

The spokesman 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 reiterated that it is a serious offence to employ people who are not lawfully employable. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for three years and a fine of $350,000. The High Court has laid down sentencing guidelines that the employer of an illegal worker should be given an immediate custodial sentence. According to the court sentencing, employers must take all practicable steps to determine whether a person is lawfully employable prior to employment. Apart from inspecting a prospective employee's identity card, the employer has the explicit duty to make enquiries regarding the person and ensure that the answers would not cast any reasonable doubt concerning the lawful employability of the person. The court will not accept failure to do so as a defence in proceedings. It is also an offence if an employer fails to inspect the job seeker's valid travel document if the job seeker does not have a Hong Kong permanent identity card. The maximum penalty for failing to inspect such a document is imprisonment for one year and a fine of $150,000.