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Filipina overstayer gets 6 months for money laundering

07 June 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Vargas's friends say she claimed on Facebook to having made money from the illicit deal

A Filipina former domestic helper was sentenced today, Jun 7, to six months in jail after admitting a charge of laundering nearly $700,000 through her bank account over a 16-month period until August last year.

Kris Hope Vargas, who has been detained a month longer than her sentence, was kept in custody as she still faces another charge for overstaying her visa.

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She had earlier denied the charge of “dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offence”, saying she lost her ATM card before the illegal transactions were made.

But she decided to admit the offense shortly before she was to go on trial before Magistrate Edward Wong.


After sentencing, Vargas was told she will have to return to Eastern Court on Jul 9 for the hearing of her overstaying case.  According to Immigration, she stayed illegally in Hong Kong after she was prematurely dismissed by her employer in late February last year.

Her lawyer went back to court with her after sentencing to apply for bail, but the magistrate rebuked him, saying he should have made the application before the hearing ended.


According to the charge that Vargas admitted, she used her Hang Seng bank account for multiple deposits and withdrawals totaling $694,056 between Apr 15, 2019 and August 2020.

Police investigating cases of “romance scams” pulled by unknown conmen on local women received a complaint on Feb 29, 2020 by a local man who said he was conned by a soldier in Afghanistan who became his cyber friend. The victim, Lyu Wenbo, 55, said he was asked to pay $26,559 for customs duty and delivery fee of a parcel the soldier sent to him.

The victim paid the fees asked by depositing them in Hang Seng bank account given by the culprit. But the parcel was not delivered. He complained to police and the account was traced to Vargas.

Vargas was arrested on Nov 29 last year outside Chungking Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui. Police were alerted when the bank noticed the suspicious transactions. The illicit transactions continued even after she had gone underground after her visa lapsed on Mar 10 last year.


In her previous court appearance, Vargas’ lawyer told Magistrate Law that his client was not aware her ATM card was being used to move illegally acquired money. He said his client had lost the card before those transactions were made.

However, some of her friends have passed on photos that Vargas had posted on Facebook, ostensibly showing her withdrawing cash that was transferred to her Hang Seng account by the unknown money launderers.


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