Court finds employer, agent guilty in case of Pinay made to work in China
A Kowloon City court convicted a Hong Kong resident and an employment agency official in a landmark case filed by government prosecutors involving the practise of some employers of bringing their Filipino domestic helpers to China.
Kowloon City Court Deputy Magistrate Andrew Ma on Dec. 14 found SW Wong, and CK Chan of conspiracy to defraud an officer of the Immigration Department for making it appear that Wong would be the employer of Filipino domestic helper R. Ubaldo, when in fact it was her cousin from mainland China who would be employing the helper.
Hong Kong only allows residents to hire foreign domestic helpers, and by submitting papers to the ImmD that Wong would be Ubaldo’s employer, her cousin Z. Huang was able to hire a helper who took care of her two children, who were born in Hong Kong and were also studying in the city.
Huang was also a defendant in the case but Judge Ma acquitted her of the charge, noting that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that she knew about the arrangement of Wong and Chan signing the documents submitted to the ImmD.
In convicting Wong and Chan, Judge Ma noted that their background as an insurance agent, and an employment agent, respectively, would have known that only Hong Kong residents were allowed to hire a foreign domestic helper.
He also noted that when Ubaldo’s contract was about to be signed, the helper asked why Wong was signing it, instead of Huang, when it was the latter who interviewed her, Chan said Wong would imitate Huang’s signature.
“D1 (Wong) and D2 (Chan) knew full well that had the application contained the correct information, the application would not be granted,” said Judge Ma.
He added that it was not “without reluctance” that he was acquitting Huang of the charge as she was highly suspicious and she benefited from the arrangement.
Judge Ma called for background reports before sentencing of Wong and Chan at a later date.
In the meantime, Judge Ma allowed them to post bail of $50,000. Wong and Chan were also ordered to surrender all their travel documents and report daily to the police.
During the trial Wong and Chan had blamed each other for the offense.
Wong on Sept. 14 told the court that the papers submitted to the ImmD for her application to hire Ubaldo was given to her by Chan was blank and that she only signed it.
“I did not know that he filled in the form that way,” Wong said in the witness box.
She also denied that she deliberately concealed the information that the two children that Ubaldo would be taking care of were not her children but her niece and nephew.
Wong, who came to Hong Kong from the mainland some 20 years ago and is now working as an insurance agent, also said the Hung Hom address, which was stated in Ubaldo’s employment contract, was her maternal address.
In her evidence given on July 18-20, the court heard that Ubaldo signed a contract on Apr. 15, 2015 to work as the domestic helper of Wong. The contract stated that the helper would, among others, take care of the employer’s daughter and son, and they would reside in an address in Hung Hom.
Ubaldo said it was Huang who interviewed her, and she was informed by Chan that the employer liked her.
After signing the contract, and staying in Macau while waiting for the ImmD to approve her new visa, Ubaldo said that on June 11, 2015, she started working in the address stated in her contract.
She said Wong did not reside at the address and it was Huang who would give her instructions and pay her salary. The witness added that Huang would pay her in cash and did not issue any receipts.
The two children that she took care of, she added, were also children of Huang instead of Wong’s.
In her contract, Ubaldo said, it was stated that the children were Wong’s.
In August 2015, Ubaldo said she was informed by Huang that they were going to China, and they would have a holiday there.
On Aug. 17, 2015, she, Wong and Huang’s daughter went to apply for a visa so Ubaldo could enter the mainland.
Looking at her contract, Ubaldo said she asked if the name that was there was Wong’s, and the latter confirmed it was.
After learning of this, Ubaldo said she inquired from Chan if this was legal, the agent said “no problem because they’re sisters.”
Ten days after, Ubaldo, along with Huang, and her children left Hong Kong for Guangzhou.
In Guangzhou, the Filipina said she was made to work at the house. She cleaned the house, went to the market, and cooked dishes. She also took Huang’s children to some exercise classes. In China, Ubaldo said, Huang took her passport. When she complained, Chan assured her that her passport would be returned to her.
As her visa was set to expire, she then returned to Hong Kong on Sept. 25, 2015.
After returning to Hong Kong, Ubaldo was told by Wong and Chan that she would have to go back to China. When she refused, she was terminated.
Owing to this, Ubaldo said she went to the Philippine Consulate for consultation.
On Sept. 30, the Filipina went to the ImmD to file a complaint against Wong, Chan, and Huang.
Wong said the forms that she filled out were in English, and with only secondary education from the mainland, her English was poor.
She added that some of the information in the application forms submitted to the ImmD were incorrect and that it was Chan who filled them out.
On the other hand, Chan denied misleading the ImmD about Ubaldo’s work.
He said all the information came from Wong herself. He also said that had he known that the two children were Huang’s and not Wong’s, he could have put that in the application form and the ImmD would still have approved it.