Twelve immigration offenders arrested

31 Dec 2015

A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a joint operation codenamed "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force yesterday (December 30) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 12 illegal workers were arrested.

During operation "Twilight", officers of the Immigration Task Force raided four target locations including a residential flat and a foot massage centre. Six illegal female workers aged 30 to 45 were arrested. Among them, one woman was also suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card.

During operation "Windsand", six Mainland visitors comprising one man and five women aged 19 to 57 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at San Wan Road and Ka Fu Close in Sheung Shui as well as Kwu Tung Road in Lok Ma Chau. The goods included milk powder, cosmetics and electronic products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2 646 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 226 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 2 420 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 215 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months and one is pending court hearing, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.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 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.