Snooker star Stephen Lee charged for teaching without permit at Hong Kong billiards hall
Immigration raid led to arrests of British former world number five player and two others at newly opened facility in Jordan
British snooker star Stephen Lee has been charged after being arrested for teaching without a permit at a billiards hall in Hong Kong.
He was arrested during an immigration raid along with two others, including former Hong Kong professional snooker player Au Chi-wai of the newly opened billiards hall, Q School, in Jordan.
Lee, 43, appeared at Tuen Mun Court on Saturday morning and denied a charge of breaching his condition of stay in the city.
The former world number five player was released on bail and is to appear at Sha Tin Court on Monday.
Au, 48, and a staff member of the billiards hall, both Hong Kong residents, were arrested in the raid on Thursday in relation to the suspected illegal employment. But they were not charged and were released on bail by the Immigration Department.
A source said that when the department acted on intelligence and raided the facility the snooker star was “teaching” there.
“Lee came to Hong Kong as a tourist, which means he was barred from taking any jobs regardless of whether he was paid or unpaid,” the source said. “We also arrested the person responsible for the club and another staff member for illegal employment.”
Lee could face up to two years in jail and a fine of HK$50,000 (US$6,300).
Employing a worker illegally or without a proper work permit is punishable by a maximum sentence of three years in jail and a HK$350,000 fine.
On March 4, Au posted on his personal Facebook page that he had just opened the billiards hall involved in the case. Au could not be reached for comment.
The hall posted a message on Facebook at 10pm on Friday, saying it had been forced to close temporarily because the facility was under “emergency maintenance”.
This is not Lee’s first run-in with authorities.
In 2013, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association barred him from competition for 12 years over a match-fixing scandal that involved seven matches in 2008 and 2009, including one in the 2008 Malta Cup against Hong Kong star Marco Fu Ka-chun.
Lee opened a billiards academy in Shenzhen in 2015, and has visited Hong Kong several times.