Immigration authorities have arrested three foreigners after a raid on a company in an alleged internship racket.
The suspects — two British nationals and a Canadian student — allegedly recruited other foreigners for CRCC Asia, which describes itself on its website as a provider of training services for China.
The company’s Cheung Sha Wan offices have been closed, Ming Pao Daily reports, citing its landlord.
CRCC Asia was established in 2006 and specializes in connecting China and the world through an internship and overseas study program, according to its website.
It claims to have offices in 11 cities worldwide, including Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. It was registered in Hong Kong this year.
Immigration agents raided its Hong Kong offices after receiving reports the company is engaged in an illegal operation.
A 29-year-old victim, named Michael, said he responded to an advertisemet in February in which CRCC offered foreigners “internship opportunities” in China and Hong Kong for up to three months.
The package included consulting services to help applicants find unpaid internships.
He said he paid 6,500 euros (US$6,892.38) which included fees for a training visa before coming to Hong Kong in April.
Michael had planned to work as a financial analyst but was told by CRCC that he could only work as an office assistant, pending the release of his training visa.
When his employer fired him for not having a work visa, Michael said CRCC arranged another internship for him, saying the job did not require a work permit.
Michael said he later found out from the Immigration Department that CRCC did not apply for a training visa for him.
He said he knows of dozens of other people who have been victimized by the company.
The Immigration Department said investigations are continuing and CRCC Asia said it will cooperate with the inquiriy.
More than than 7,000 training visas were issued in the first 10 months of the year, up from 8,257 in 2014 and 7,242 in 2013, immigration data shows.
Hong Kong law prohibits any foreigner to take up employment or open a business without approval from immigration authorities.
Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and a two-year imprisonment.
Internship training firm denies cheating allegations (Dec. 25, 2015)
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