Mastermind of syndicate arranging cross-boundary bogus marriages jailed for conspiracy to defraud

     The Immigration Department (ImmD) smashed a syndicate arranging cross-boundary bogus marriages and a Hong Kong resident mastermind has been arrested. The 58-year-old female defendant had earlier pleaded guilty to her offence of conspiracy to defraud at District Court and she was sentenced to 22 months' imprisonment today (April 27).

     An ImmD spokesman said that the ImmD has been very concerned about non-Hong Kong residents obtaining residency by means of contracting bogus marriages with Hong Kong residents. A syndicate which recruited young people to engage in bogus marriages was identified in July last year. A series of territory-wide operations smashed this cross-boundary bogus marriage syndicate.  Investigators seized a number of Hong Kong and Mainland marriage certificates, birth certificates and the certificates' copies from the premises of the mastermind and one of the core members.

     "Since the commencement of operations, a total of 61 Hong Kong and Mainland residents (28 males and 33 females), aged from 21 to 58, were arrested including a mastermind and three core members who were Hong Kong residents. Seventeen Hong Kong and Mainland residents were convicted of the offence of conspiracy to defraud, in which 12 of them were sentenced to 8 to 22 months' imprisonment, and the cases related to other arrestees were being followed. The operation is still ongoing and more arrests may be made. In addition, relevant Mainland authorities have been notified about the cases of the Mainlanders," the spokesman added.

     "The Immigration Department will continue to spare no effort in combating bogus marriages and other related illicit activities.  For people who have obtained their residence in Hong Kong by fraudulent means, their Hong Kong identity card and residence status will be invalidated according to the laws of Hong Kong. They will also be subject to removal back to their place of origin," the spokesman said.

     The spokesman urged the public not to defy the law by participating in activities related to bogus marriages anywhere and not to make a false oath before immigration officers for the purpose of procuring a marriage in Hong Kong. Those directing others to contract a bogus marriage may also be guilty of the offence of conspiracy to defraud.

     Under the laws of Hong Kong, it is an offence to make false representation to Immigration Officers. Offenders are liable to prosecution and to a maximum fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for 14 years. Aiders and abettors are also liable to prosecution and the same penalties.

     Any person who for the purpose of procuring a marriage, or a certificate or license for marriage, knowingly and willfully makes a false oath or makes or signs a false declaration shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to, upon conviction, imprisonment for seven years and a fine and anyone who commits the offence of conspiracy to defraud is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 14 years.

Ends/Monday, April 27, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:53