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DH jailed for using expired contract to get loan

26 March 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina domestic helper was jailed for two months by the Shatin Court on Mar. 1, following her conviction on a charge of using her expired work contract to take out a loan last November from a branch of a lending company in Shatin.

The helper, 42-year-old Marites F. Olarte, wept with remorse in the dock and pleaded guilty after the summary of facts relating to a charge of  “obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception” was read to her.

The report said Olarte went to the Prime Credit shop at Lucky Plaza in Shatin on Nov 6 last year and applied for a loan of $40,100. She allegedly presented her work contract  and work visa, which by then had become invalid because she was terminated by her employer, Wong Chin-wang, on Nov 4.

A Filipina staff of the lending company gave Olarte $15,661, after she settled an existing loan. The new contract stated that she should repay the loan in 17 monthly installments of $3,121.

She was able to pay the first monthly installment and then stopped paying, leaving an outstanding loan of $49,936, the prosecution said. The lender investigated when Olarte defaulted in her payments and found out from Wong and Immigration that she had left Hong Kong after being terminated.

Olarte was arrested at the Hong Kong International Airport on the night of Feb 11, 2018 on her return from the Philippines supposedly to start working for a new employer the next day.

The duty lawyer assigned to defend her begged for leniency, saying the woman was separated from her husband and came to Hong Kong five years ago to work as a domestic helper. He said the helper needed money to pay an employment agency that got her a new employer after she was terminated, and to pay the graduation expenses of her children.

The lawyer said Olarte entrusted money to a friend and townmate to pay the November and December installments of the loan before she went home on Nov 11 to wait for her new visa. But the friend paid only the November installment, the counsel said.

After considering the mitigation, Magistrate Don So sent Olarte to two months in jail, after discounting the prescribed sentence by a third for her guilty plea.

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