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Fourteen immigration offenders arrested

     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 (March 10) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 11 illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested.

     During operation "Twilight", immigration officers raided 16 target locations including restaurants, an office, elderly homes, a pet rescue centre, a garbage collection point and premises under renovation. Nine illegal workers were arrested, comprising two men and seven women aged 30 to 59. Among them, two women were suspected of being in possession of and using a forged Hong Kong identity card and another woman was suspected of being in possession of and using a Hong Kong identity card related to another person. Two men and one woman, aged 44 to 67, were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

     During operation "Windsand", which was a joint operation between the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force, two Mainland male visitors aged 27 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Lok Ma Chau. The goods included red wine, milk powder, skin care products and cosmetics during the operation.

     Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 1,146 Mainlanders and 13 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 175 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay and two are under investigation, while the remaining 969 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 166 out of 175 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to two months, one is pending court hearing, and charges were withdrawn for another eight people.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 to use or possess a forged Hong Kong 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.

Ends/Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:30


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