Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Times
Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Times

Indonesia is still trying to trace as many as 100 workers who may have fallen victim to a loan-shark racket shut down by authorities in Hong Kong in July — but are afraid of losing their jobs if they come forward.

Consul General Tri Tharyat said at a press briefing that the consulate had set up hotlines and inquiry counters with four extra staff to help those who had been victims, and urged anyone affected by the illegal  operation to seek help, Ming Pao Daily reported.

A man was arrested by Hong Kong police for allegedly running a loan-shark operation that targeted Indonesian domestic workers. The police recovered around 800 passports that were handed over by borrowers as collateral for their loans.

Tharyat said that about 100 victims had not yet sought any assistance from the consulate, possibly because they feared their employers would terminate their contracts if details of the debts were revealed, or because their working visas had not yet expired.

Tharyat gave an assurance that victims would not be blacklisted and urged that they contact the consulate as soon as possible.

So far the consulate has issued 285 temporary passports and 73 new passports to the victims. Another 143 cases are being processed.

One of the victims, a woman who had been working in Hong Kong for 18 years, said at the press conference that she borrowed HK$4,000 (US$510) from the arrested man in June and was told to pay HK$440 a month as interest for six months, news website reported.

She gave her passport to the man as collateral. Worried that it might be lost, she contacted the consulate after learning of his arrest and was issued with a new document. The woman called on others who had borrowed from the man to immediately contact the consulate.

Read: Consulates ask Hong Kong to clamp down on loan sharks

Read: Police arrest suspected loan shark who targeted maids