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Filipina DH, employer charged with money laundering on top of illegal recruitment

18 June 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao
An OFW complainant took this picture of Biscocho's arrest in Nov last year
Two money laundering charges involving more than $600,000 were filed in Kwun Tong court today, Jun 18, against a Filipina domestic helper who worked as staff of a recruitment agency, including one in which her employer is her co-accused.

Both women also now face a total of 24 counts of duping Filipino job applicants, after five similar charges of “applying a false trade description” were added to 19 other counts filed against them earlier.

The two, Filipina Marijane Biscocho, 42; along with her employer, Hong Kong resident Lennis Ebrahim, 56, allegedly collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from the applicants for fake jobs in Hong Kong and Macau.

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The cases against the two will now be moved to the District Court due to their serious nature, and the next hearing will be on Jul 9.

The prosecution charged that between June 17, 2018 and Nov 12, 2019, Biscocho and Ebrahim deposited in a Hang Seng Bank savings account a total of $127,000, which was believed to be proceeds of a crime.

Between Sep 23, 2018 and Jun 16, 2019, Biscocho also allegedly deposited in a Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp saving account a total of $510,500, which again, is suspected to be have come from a criminal act.

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In addition, Biscocho was charged with breach of condition of stay for working as a recruitment staff of Ebrahim in her WHT Consulting Company in Kwun Tong between Oct 1, 2018 and Sept 17, 2019.

She did so while on a domestic worker visa that was valid until Nov 12, 2019, the prosecution said.

In all, Biscocho is facing 26 charges in Kwun Tong Court in connection with the scam in 2018-2019. She and Ebrahim allegedly offered non-existent jobs in Hong Kong and Macau to OFWs and their relatives, who paid fees of between $3,000 to $12,000 each.

In an unusual move, Customs & Excise is prosecuting the illegal recruitment cases,  citing trade violation
The tall and slim Ebrahim appeared stronger in today’s hearing, compared with her previous appearance on May 21, when she looked weak and had to be helped to the defendant’s stand by a male companion.

Her lawyer said she wanted the charges to be read to her in Chinese as she was born in Hong Kong and grew up and went to school in the city.
Charges 1 to 19, which the prosecutor said contained amendments, and the seven additional charges were read to both defendants on orders of Chui.

The alleged victims in earlier cases accused Ebrahim, Biscocho and fellow Filipina Nympha Lumatac of collecting about $180,000 from them for such jobs as printers, drivers, waiters and factory workers in Hong Kong and Macau, that turned out to be non-existent.

Lumatac left Hong Kong for home via Macau before the Customs & Excise Department took over the case and arrested Biscocho and Ebrahim last November.
Magistrate Ivy Chui adjourned the case and told both defendants to appear at the next hearing at the District Court.

She advised Biscocho, who is in custody, to better engage a private lawyer, or get Legal Aid to prepare her for trial.

The magistrate also told Ebrahim to prepare, but extended her bail and allowed her to report to the Kwun Tong police only once a week due to her health condition.

Her lawyer said in previous hearings that Ebrahim could not go to court because a heart ailment caused her breathing difficulty.

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