Recent ICAC Cases

12
Nov 2020
Ex-property manager sentenced to 23 months’ jail for fraud over $520,000 cleaning service fees

A former property manager of a commercial and industrial building, charged by the ICAC, was today (November 12) sentenced to 23 months’ imprisonment at the District Court for defrauding the building’s Incorporated Owners (IO) of cleaning service fees totalling about $520,000 by concealing that his own company was engaged to provide the service.

Lau Koon-hing, 67, former property manager of Hopeful Factory Centre (Hopeful), was earlier found guilty of four charges – two of fraud, contrary to Section 16A of the Theft Ordinance; one of attempted fraud, contrary to Section 16A of the Theft Ordinance and Section 159G of the Crimes Ordinance; and one of using a false instrument, contrary to Section 73 of the Crimes Ordinance.

In sentencing, Deputy Judge Colin Wong Sze-cheung said the defendant had abused his position to engage a company owned by him to take up a cleaning job. The offences he committed were serious in nature and constituted a breach of trust.

The case arose from a corruption complaint. Subsequent ICAC enquiries revealed the above offences.

The court heard that Hopeful was a commercial and industrial building in Fo Tan. At the material time, the defendant was employed by the IO of Hopeful to oversee property management matters of the building.

In February 2015, the defendant engaged Chun Wen Environmental Service Company (Chun Wen), which was set up by him in the same month, to provide cleaning service to Hopeful without the authorisation and approval from its IO. The IO of Hopeful was not aware of the change of cleaning service provider and the defendant had never disclosed his relationship with Chun Wen to the IO.

As a result of the defendant’s fraudulent acts, monthly service fees ranging from $17,500 to over $21,500, totalling about $520,000, were paid by the IO of Hopeful to Chun Wen between February 2015 and May 2017.

The court also heard that in March 2015, the defendant submitted a cleaning service contract purportedly entered between the management office of Hopeful and Chun Wen to a bank. Believing that it was a genuine contract, the bank approved the defendant’s application to open a bank account in the name of Chun Wen. The bank account was subsequently used to receive cleaning service fees paid by the IO of Hopeful.

While the defendant would submit a summary listing out the salary of each staff member of the management office of Hopeful to the IO of Hopeful for payroll arrangement, he falsely represented in the summary submitted in April 2017 that his monthly salary was $21,000.

As the chairman of the IO of Hopeful recalled that the defendant’s salary did not exceed $20,000, salary payment records were inspected. It was subsequently found that the defendant’s salary was increased by $600 in September 2015 without the approval of the IO of Hopeful, the court heard.

The IO of Hopeful and the bank concerned had rendered full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation into the case.

The prosecution was today represented by prosecuting counsel Cannise Chan, assisted by ICAC officer Stephen Leung.

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