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Emry’s manager claims being duped by $4.2 million

29 July 2016

Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre meets with OFWs who complained against Emry's.

By The SUN Staff

Beleaguered recruiter Ester Ylagan appears to have jumped the gun on overseas Filipino workers seeking a refund of the money they paid her for jobs in Britain and Canada by filing a $4.2 million deception case with the police against an unnamed partner.
In reply to queries from The SUN about a notice posted on the door of Emry’s office in Wanchai which has been shut since July 3, the Police Public Relations Bureau said:
“Regarding your enquiry giving us the case number 16036631, according to the report, police received a report from a 63-year-old foreign woman on July 8 that she failed to contact a male business partner after her company transferred about $4.2 million to overseas as the placement fee for some job opportunities for domestic helpers.
Investigation along the line of obtaining property by deception by the District Investigation Team 8 of the Central District is underway. No person was arrested so far.”
The filing of the case appears to be in line with Ylagan’s claim made earlier in a recorded interview with The SUN that she had been tricked into sending the money paid by her job applicants to her partner in London who goes by the name “William Clinton James” or “William Clinton Erich”.
Ylagan said then that she had never met this business partner in person, and communicated with him only via email.
Her claim was immediately dismissed as “unbelievable” by other recruitment practitioners, who pointed out that with Ylagan’s 30 years of experience in the field, she could not have been duped that easily.
Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre was not convinced by Ylagan’s excuse, either, and ordered her to “show cause” for her third-country deployment of Filipino workers, which is prohibited under Philippine Overseas Employment Administration rules.
After Ylagan failed to comply with the order, Labatt de la Torre decided to put all work contracts being processed by Emry’s on hold effective June 20.
Labatt de la Torre told The SUN that Emry’s suspension remains in force, and that he has already sent an urgent request to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to act on his recommendation that the agency’s accreditation be cancelled.
Before being plagued by complaints about the apparently bogus jobs recruitment, Emry’s was the biggest recruiter of Filipinos for domestic work in Hong Kong, averaging five placements per day.
Ylagan acted as Emry’s manager, which used to be run by her husband, Ricardo Ylagan, who founded it in February 1992.  Ester Ylagan also managed Mike’s Secretarial Services, which has an office adjacent to Emry’s on the third floor of Worldwide Plaza in Central. Emry’s also has an office on the third floor of On Hong Commercial Building in Wanchai.
Emry’s office in Worldwide Plaza was shut on June 29, while Mike’s and the Wanchai branch were closed on July 3 ostensibly for redecoration, and a sign was posted on their doors saying they would re-open on July 26. They remain closed as of this writing.
Informed about Ylagan’s filing of a deception complaint, about a dozen of her job applicants decided to also seek help from the Central police station on July 24. After hearing them out, the police chiefs at the station agreed to take on the case, and notified the applicants that they would be called individually for an investigation at various dates.
Meantime, the Employment Agencies Administration of the Hong Kong Labour Department has started interviewing applicants, after getting a referral about their complaints from the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section.
During the interviews conducted at the EAA office in Mong Kok starting on July 19, the applicants were each furnished a copy of their bio-data and a slip indicating the amount they paid Ylagan. The documents were apparently obtained from Mike’s office by labour officers.
The applicants now plan to use these documents in pursuing their separate claims with the police and the Small Claims Tribunal.
In their written complaint to the police, the job applicants said Ylagan collected $10,000 from those applying to work in Britain and $15,000 from those seeking a job in Canada.
In several briefings she conducted about the jobs offer, Ylagan reportedly promised that they would be paid no less that 2,000 pounds a month, tax free, and with free accommodation. After working for two years, they would be given three months’ vacation with pay.
She reportedly promised that their “job order” would be sent to Hong Kong in three months’ time, and they could fly out on a chartered plane to London, accompanied by Hong Kong immigration officers, by June this year.
Ylagan did not issue receipts, reportedly saying that she did not want to be taxed by the Hong Kong authorities. But she made them fill out a bio-data form and a slip indicating how much each applicant paid.
Sometime in April, Ylagan told them that the job order was getting held up, but that they would definitely be able to fly out by October.
Alarmed by her altered promise and reports that they may have been duped, more than 100 job applicants trooped to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office on July 3 to file complaints.
Their sworn affidavits were later turned over by the assistance to nationals section of the Consulate to the HK Labour Department and the Hong Kong Police.
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