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Ylagan faces 23 overcharging charges in alleged UK, Canada job scam

11 January 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao

Ester P. Ylagan, formerly the leading recruiter of Filipino domestic workers for Hong Kong, appeared in Eastern Court on Jan. 11 to face 23 charges of overcharging brought against her by the Labour Department.

Ylagan, who showed up in a casual attire of jeans and jacket, was represented by private lawyer Andrew Raffell of Pacific Chambers.

But despite the lapse of more than two years since the case was filed, the hearing was again reset to Apr 12 after prosecutors from the Employment Agencies Administration said they needed to consult with the police on a related fraud case.

The prosecution’s application to further delay the case prompted a rebuke from magistrate Yu Chun-pong.

Yu asked why the EAA had to wait for the police probe. The prosecutor replied that  police were also planning to file a money laundering case against Ylagan for taking the workers’ money and moving it to other jurisdictions.

The prosecutor initially asked for a three-month adjournment, then changed it to six months, saying this was to ensure the police investigation would be completed by then.

But Yu was not pleased. He told the prosecutor to ascertain from the police whether they could finish their work in three months.

“You make them understand that this case has been going on for three years,” the magistrate said. He told the prosecutor that EAA must take the case seriously.

Yu ordered the prosecutor to ask the police when they would complete their fraud investigation and to tell them he won’t allow a further adjournment after this.

The prosecutor came back with an assurance from the police that the case would be completed in six months, “the minimum period”.

Despite this, the magistrate set the next hearing for Apr 12, with an order that no more adjournment shall be allowed.

He also told the EAA to start preparing for trial in case the defendant pleads not guilty.

Ylagan’s counsel also protested the further delay, saying his client is accused of a “simple commission case” and need not wait for the police to wrap up its investigation of an alleged fraud case against her.

Raffell also said the agency commission of 10% of the first monthly salary applied only to helpers deployed in Hong Kong but not to recruits for jobs in Britain and Canada.

Further, he said his client was also a victim of fraud and that the delay had “prolonged her suffering.”

The 23 cases filed against Ylagan are just a small fraction of the sworn complaints made by hundreds of Filipino workers against her, who claimed they had been charged by the recruiter between $10,000 and $15,000 for non-existent jobs in Britain and Canada.

The complainants told police Ylagan, co-owner of the former Emry’s Service Staff Employment Agency, used her Mike’s Secretarial Services to entice more than 200 workers to apply for the fake jobs.

Police arrested Ylagan late last year on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. She is out on police bail.

EAA initiated its own investigation after seizing documents from the former offices of Emry’s and Mike’s in Worldwide Plaza in Central.

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