Filipina resident jailed for 3 years lent HKID so overstayer could work
The offences were uncovered during an anti-illegal work operation by Immigration officers

An operation carried out by Immigration officers
last year when a number of overstaying foreign domestic helpers were found to
be working illegally as cleaners, uncovered a series of offenses committed by a
Filipina resident who was ordered jailed for 36 months last Monday.

The Filipina, Leila W. Fonte, 56, pleaded guilty to
eight offenses when she appeared in Shatin court, including allowing her HKID
card to be used by a former domestic helper who was among those rounded up in
the crackdown.

Fonte also induced a Filipino male resident to lend
his HKID card and identity to Mohamed Shah, an asylum seeker, so he could get a
job. Fonte later married and secured a dependant visa for Shah using fake bank
documents. .

Shah and the former FDH caught doing illegal work named
as Melyn Ibon, both pleaded guilty earlier to using other people’s identity
cards and were sentenced to 15 months in jail respectively.

According to an Immigration statement released
Tuesday, Fonte pleaded guilty to other offenses, including money laundering for
allowing money earned illegally by Ibon to be deposited into her account, and making
false representation to Immigration officers.

In mitigation, Fonte’s lawyer said the accused was a
former domestic helper who married a local and got divorced years later. She
worked as a cleaner, earning $14,000 a month while fighting stage 3 cervical
cancer.

In 2016, she lent her HKID card to Ibon, who then
used it to secure a job in a restaurant. Fonte repeated this offense in
September 2021, and in January 2022.

Between July 2018 and September 2021, Ibon was paid
a total of $596,611.40, which went into Fonte’s HSBC account. Ibon paid Fonte
$2,500 monthly for the favour.

Fonte then used the fake bank statements to support
her application for a dependant visa for Shah, which was approved.

In addition, Fonte allowed Ibon to secure a loan at United Asia Finance Ltd. for $10,103 using her HKID card. Both women were charged with conspiracy to defraud as a result

In July 2020 Fonte borrowed the HKID card of
Filipino male resident Ricardo de Austria, 54, and passed it on to Shah, then
an asylum seeker, who used it to get a job at a restaurant.

Out of this deception, Shah earned a total of
$414,791.33 in salaries from Aug 6, 2020 to Sept 7, 2020, which were all paid into
Austria’s Hang Seng Bank account.

This resulted in a charge of conspiracy to deal in
proceeds of a crime or money laundering, to which both Shah and Fonte pleaded
guilty.

De Austria, on the other hand, is out on $1,000 bail
for the same charge, and is scheduled to appear in court on May 14.

On Feb. 11, 2020, Fonte lied to an Immigration
officer by saying that she worked in a restaurant named Hutong, even if it was
Ibon who was actually working there, giving rise to the eighth and final charge.

In its statement, Immigration warned that it is
illegal for anyone to transfer an identity card to another, and for that person
to possess or use the same document. Violators face a maximum penalty of
$100,000 in fine and 10 years imprisonment.

Making false representation to an Immigration
officer is a more serious offence, and is punishable by up to $150,000 in fine and imprisonment for 14 years.

The same maximum jail term of 14 years is prescribed
under the Crimes Ordinance for anyone found guilty of conspiracy to defraud.

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