Domestic worker pleads guilty to overstaying, conspiring to commit money laundering charges

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The Eastern Magistrates' Courts in Sai Wan Ho.

A former Filipina domestic worker pleaded guilty to charges filed against her for overstaying and lending her bank account to her friend who tricked prospective renters in a scam.

A. L. Cabanban, 39, faced Magistrate Bina Chainrai at the Eastern Courts Wednesday. She was arrested on Apr. 17 at the Skyline Tower Immigration Office in Kowloon Bay for breaching her conditions of stay.

The defendant was terminated on Apr. 9, 2019, and was supposed to leave on Apr. 23. Her lawyer said she overstayed to look for lawful employment in lieu of her termination, and that she surrendered herself willingly to authorities.

Cabanban was also charged with “conspiracy to deal with property known or believed to represent the proceeds of an indictable offence”—commonly known as conspiring to commit money laundering—after two prospective renters were tricked to deposit money to her bank account for rent.

The two had contacted a Whatsapp number in an online advertisement for an apartment rental in Central. The contact person asked them to pay a HK$14,000 and HK$21,000 respectively as deposit.

The unidentified contact person asked for additional rent—which the two refused to pay—before disappearing. This prompted the would-be tenants to report to the police.

Upon checking, the bank account in question was found to be under Cabanban’s name.

From Oct. 18, 2018 to Jan. 9, 2019, there were nine different deposits amounting to HK$52,770 in her account. There were also 12 withdrawals amounting to HK$52,700.

Cabanban’s lawyer cited financial reasons for letting her friend borrow her bank account, ATM card, and PIN number included, in exchange for HK$3,000. The lawyer also said her participation in the offense was limited to lending her bank account.

Chainrai remanded her in custody and adjourned her sentencing to Sept. 23.