Recent ICAC Cases

30
Sep 2022
Estate agent charged by ICAC jailed for soliciting ‘tea money’ from flat owner to negotiate higher selling price

An estate agent, charged by the ICAC, was today (September 30) sentenced to three and a half months in jail after admitting at the Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Courts that he had solicited a “tea money” of $9,000 from a flat owner for negotiating a higher selling price of the latter’s residential property at $4.568 million.

Yeung Tak-ming, 64, property agent of Centaline Property Agency Limited (Centaline Property), pleaded guilty to one count of agent soliciting an advantage, contrary to Section 9(1)(a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO).

In sentencing, Deputy Magistrate Mr Benny Lo Wing-ho said the offence committed by the defendant was serious in nature, warranting a deterrent sentence. He took a starting point of six months’ imprisonment, and reduced the defendant’s jail term to three and a half months having considered his guilty plea and other mitigating factors.

The court heard that around April to May 2020, a flat owner engaged Centaline Property to sell his residential property in Tuen Mun. In early August, the defendant arranged a potential buyer to view the property but the offer did not meet the flat owner’s target. The flat owner later told the defendant that $4.55 million was the lowest agreeable selling price.

The property was eventually sold to the buyer at $4.568 million, which was $18,000 higher than the price asked by the flat owner. The defendant admitted that he subsequently solicited a “tea money” of $9,000 from the flat owner as a reward for negotiating a higher property selling price.

Centaline Property did not allow its estate agents to solicit any advantage from its clients. The flat owner subsequently learned from Centaline Property that he was not required to pay any “tea money” to the defendant, and thus no payment was made.

The ICAC investigation arose from a corruption complaint. Centaline Property had rendered full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation into the case.

The prosecution was today represented by Senior Public Prosecutor Marcus Lee, assisted by ICAC officer Dirk Cheung.

The ICAC reminds estate agents that soliciting or accepting advantages in the course of procuring transactions without permission constitutes breaches of the POBO. Property owners and buyers should report to the ICAC immediately if corruption is suspected.

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