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Eighteen immigration offenders arrested

     The Immigration Department (ImmD) mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations on May 30 and yesterday (May 31), including an operation codenamed "Twilight" and joint operations with the Hong Kong Police Force codenamed "Windsand", to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 17 illegal workers and one suspected employer were arrested.

     During the "Twilight" operation conducted on May 30 and an anti-illegal employment operation conducted yesterday, Immigration Task Force officers raided seven target locations comprising an office, a warehouse, tailor shops, restaurants and a residential building. Five illegal workers comprising three men and two women aged 24 to 28 were arrested. Among them, two men and one woman were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. In addition, one man and one woman were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. One man aged 33 was suspected of employing the illegal workers.

     Furthermore, during operation "Windsand" conducted on May 30 and yesterday, 12 Mainland visitors comprising seven men and five women aged 19 to 63 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at San Wan Road, Po Wan Road and Ka Fu Close in Sheung Shui district and Lok Ma Chau Road. The goods included milk powder, foods, red wine, skincare products, electronic components and electronic products.

     Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2 859 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 228 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 2 631 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 218 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.

     "Visitors are not allowed to take up 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 ImmD spokesman said.

     The spokesman warned that, as stipulated in section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order are prohibited from taking any employment, whether paid or unpaid, or establishing or joining in any business. Offenders are liable upon conviction 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 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 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/Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:51


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