Twenty-three immigration offenders arrested

23 Jul 2015

A territory-wide enforcement operation and a joint operation codenamed "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force on July 21 and 22 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 21 illegal workers and two suspected employers were arrested.

During the enforcement operation against illegal workers, officers of the Immigration Task Force raided four target locations, namely a residential building, an office, a restaurant and a residential flat under renovation. Ten illegal workers comprising nine men and one woman aged 22 to 55 were arrested. Among them, five men were the holders of a recognisance form which prohibits them from taking any employment. In addition, two men were suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. Two male employers aged 38 and 40 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Windsand", 11 Mainland visitors comprising seven men and four women aged 32 to 63 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at San Wan Road in Sheung Shui and Castle Peak Road - San Tin in Lok Ma Chau. The goods included milk powder, food, skin products and electronic products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2,415 Mainlanders and 15 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 219 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay while the remaining 2,196 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 209 were sentenced to imprisonment of between four weeks and three months and charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.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 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 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.