A Hong Kong woman jailed for abusing Indonesian domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih has been declared bankrupt by a Hong Kong court.

Law Wan-tung Erwiana
Law Wan-tung, convicted of abusing domestic workers Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and two other domestic workers. File photo.

Law Wan-tung was given a six-year jail term after being found guilty in 2015 of assaulting Sulistyaningsih and one other domestic worker. She was also found guilty of criminal intimidation, failure to pay wages, failure to grant holidays and failure to pay for their insurance. 

The case captured headlines internationally when images of Sulistyaningsih bruised and battered emerged in 2014. Law was jailed after depriving Sulistyaningsih of food, forcing her to sleep on the floor, burning her with an iron and beating her with mops, a ruler and a clothes hanger, leaving her scarred for life.

Sulistyaningsih went on to become the face of a movement advocating reform for more than 300,000 foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. She made TIME magazine’s “100 Most Powerful People” in 2014.

Unpaid damages

Following her conviction, Law was ordered to pay HK$809,430 by the District Court as compensation for Sulistyaningsih’s injuries, and another HK$170,000 to Tutik Lestari Ningsih in separate civil suits. Law was released under supervision in 2018, having served only half of her jail sentence. She has yet to repay her victims and the Justice Department, local media reported earlier this year.

The former employer filed a bankruptcy claim in August. It was approved by the High Court on Monday.

erwiana justice for all
Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. Photo: Gabriel McKail.

Law was found to have transferred half of her Tseung Kwan O apartment to her husband before a verdict was handed down in Sulistyaningsih’s civil claim in 2017, but the transfer was voided by a court.

It was considered “a disposition of property by the defendants with intent to defraud creditors… and to obstruct or delay the execution of any judgement that may be made against” Law and her husband, a judge wrote.

Law’s husband then filed a civil claim against Law in 2017, seeking the repayment of HK$3 million she allegedly owed him. He requested a charging order be placed on Law’s half of the apartment, but it was ultimately rejected.

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