Ciaotou District Prosecutors' Office, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

Two unlicensed Taiwanese employment agents in New Taipei City, who targeted vulnerable families with sick people in hospitals and offered them illegal Indonesian caregivers, were arrested on Tuesday for overcharging employers and unlawfully withholding workers’ wages.

After months of investigations, officials from the police, the department of labor and the New Taipei City Brigade of the National Immigration Agency raided multiple locations in Keelung City, Taipei City, New Taipei City and Taoyuan City. Their target was the allegedly illegal employment agency, which was operated by a 60-year-old man and his accomplice, the China Times reported.

Notebooks and details of clients and employees, six mobile phones, workers’ passports and residence permits and more than NT$100,000 (US$3,247) in cash were seized as evidence.

A total of 31 Indonesian women who had no valid work permits and 30 employers who hired the women as caregivers were also arrested during the operation.

Preliminary investigations found that the employers were in urgent need of caregivers for their family members who had fallen ill or were staying in a hospital. The two assured their clients that the Indonesian women were immigrant wives who were permitted to work.

Each employer was paying legal wages at NT$2,000 or NT$2,200 (US$65-US$71) per day to their workers, whose salaries were cut in half by the two suspects and they were earning only NT$1,000 or NT$1,200 (US$32-US$39).

It was estimated that the pair were earning more than NT$1 million (US$32,470) on average each month. Both were allowed bail of NT$300,000 each, while the illegal Indonesians faced repatriation and the employers fines of between NT$150,000 and NT$750,000 (US$4,870-US$24,353).

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