Mainlander jailed over forged smart identity card

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2007, 12:00am

Man working in HK under talents admission scheme tried to fool bank

An investment consultant who moved to work in Hong Kong through the mainland talents admission scheme was sent to jail yesterday for applying for a bank account with a forged identity card.

The poor-quality, inkjet-printed document presented by Cheng Yi-lin failed to fool staff of the Bank of East Asia's Wan Chai branch, Eastern Court heard.

Cheng said he had obtained the card from a clansman on the mainland, who told him to open a bank account for him, the court was told.

The 26-year-old mainlander was jailed for eight months after pleaded guilty to using a forged smart identity card, in the name of Chen Rong, at the bank in Hennessy Road on Wednesday.

Cheng told a police officer when arrested that the forged card was given to him by a friend.

But he later told them a clansman had given him the card on the mainland on Tuesday and asked him to open a bank account.

The court heard Cheng came to Hong Kong in 2005 to study for a master's degree at the University of Science and Technology.

Soon afterwards he successfully applied through the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals to work in Hong Kong and got a job as an investment consultant earning HK$15,000 a month.

Lawyer Wong Tsz-ho pleaded for leniency for the remorseful mainlander saying the offence was not as serious as it might have been because the forged document was of very poor quality - inkjet printed with no security features.

But acting principal Magistrate David Thomas said that although the forged card obviously could have fooled no one, Cheng did show a clear intention to deceive the bank and made 'a serious attempt' to open a bank account.

Adopting one year as a starting point, the magistrate reduced the term by four months in recognition of the guilty plea.

The Immigration Department said whether mainlanders with local criminal records could continue to get work permits was subject to individual review.

Under the Immigration Ordinance, an immigrant will be deported if found guilty in Hong Kong of an offence punishable with imprisonment for two years.

The government launched the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals in July 2003. The number of visas granted has climbed steadily from 1,501 to 5,656 last year.

The scheme aims to attract qualified mainland talent and professionals, whose skills and knowledge are not readily available or in short supply locally, to work in Hong Kong for a specific period and subject to renewal. Their spouses and children can apply to stay in Hong Kong.