Recent ICAC Cases

17
Nov 2022
Ex-employee of telecom company charged by ICAC jailed for bribery and dishonest access to computer over customer data leak

A former employee of a telecommunications company, charged by the ICAC, was today (November 17) sentenced to three months’ imprisonment at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts for accepting bribes to disclose personal information and data of over 540 customers obtained by his dishonest access to the company’s computer systems.

Lai Sze-ting, 29, former junior marketing executive of PayTV Department of PCCW Services Limited (PCCW), earlier pleaded guilty to two charges – one of conspiracy for an agent to accept advantages, contrary to Section 9(1)(a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance and Sections 159A of the Crimes Ordinance; and one of conspiracy to obtain access to a computer with dishonest intent, contrary to Sections 161(1)(c) and 159A of the Crimes Ordinance.

Acting Principal Magistrate Miss Veronica Heung Shuk-han ordered the defendant to pay $4,000, being the amount of the bribes he accepted, as restitution to PCCW.

In sentencing, the Acting Principal Magistrate said bribery is a serious offence. The offences committed by the defendant lasted about three months and involved a few hundred searches in PCCW’s computer systems, warranting a custodial sentence. She took a starting point of four and a half months imprisonment and reduced the jail term of the defendant to three months having considered his guilty plea.

The court heard that PCCW maintained two computer systems for safekeeping personal information and data of customers (Customers’ Particulars), including their names, Hong Kong Identity Card numbers, phone numbers and addresses. Only designated PCCW staff were authorised to have access to the computer databases. The defendant was assigned a desktop computer with the two computer systems installed.

During late July and mid-October 2018, the defendant conducted numerous searches in the two computer systems based on the basic information provided by a former team leader of PayTV Department who had left the company, and disclosed the search results containing Customers’ Particulars of over 540 customers to the latter.

During the period, the defendant accepted two bribes totalling $4,000 from the former team leader for conducting the searches and disclosing the Customers’ Particulars to him.

The court heard that PCCW prohibited its staff from accepting any advantage for doing any act which would cause serious loss to the company, accessing the two computer systems without authorisation, and disclosing Customers’ Particulars to non-PCCW staff. The above searches conducted by the defendant were not related to his duty and were unauthorised.

The ICAC investigation arose from a corruption complaint. Pursuant to legal advice sought from the Department of Justice upon completion of the investigation, the defendant, the team leader and another former employee of PCCW were charged with bribery and other related offences for disclosing Customers’ Particulars of about 4,700 customers.

Lau Shing-yan, 36, and Kan Siu-kei, 38, respectively former team leader of PayTV Department and former sales supervisor of Direct Sales Department of PCCW, have their pleas adjourned to January 6, 2023.

PCCW had rendered full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation into the case.

The prosecution was today represented ICAC officer Alvin Pang.

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