Recent ICAC Cases

Jan 2023
Ex-employees of telecom company charged by ICAC jailed for bribery over customer data leak

Two of the three former employees of a telecommunications company charged by the ICAC were respectively sentenced to six months’ and six weeks’ imprisonment at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts today (January 19) for soliciting and accepting bribes to disclose personal information and data of about 4,700 customers illegally obtained from the company’s computer systems.

Lau Shing-yan, 36, former team leader of PayTV Department of PCCW Services Limited (PCCW), was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, while Kan Siu-kei, 38, former sales supervisor of Direct Sales Department of PCCW, was jailed for six weeks.

In sentencing, Acting Principal Magistrate Miss Veronica Heung Shuk-han said that Lau was the mastermind of the scam and that he obtained personal information and data of numerous customers through the two co-defendants. The offences involved were serious in nature, warranting a custodial sentence. She took a starting point of nine months’ imprisonment and reduced Lau’s jail term to six months after taking into account his guilty plea.

Having considered Kan’s guilty plea and other mitigating factors, Kan was sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment, the Acting Principal Magistrate added.

Lau and Kan earlier pleaded guilty to a total of four bribery charges – one of agent soliciting advantages and three 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.

The offences took place between June 2017 and October 2018. At the material time, 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. Lau and Kan were assigned computers with the two computer systems installed.

The court heard that Lau had solicited unknown sums of loans from a person, and accepted two bribes amounting to $13,000 from another person for him to peruse and search the computer systems of PCCW for Customers’ Particulars and disclose to the two persons the Customers’ Particulars of nearly 3,800 customers obtained from the computer systems.

After Lau was terminated by PCCW in July 2017 due to his unauthorised searches of Customers’ Particulars, he asked Kan and Lai Sze-ting, junior marketing executive of PayTV Department of PCCW, to conduct searches at the computer systems and to disclose the Customers’ Particulars of over 900 customers to him. Kan and Lai in return respectively accepted bribes of $2,000 and $4,000 from Lau.

PCCW prohibited its staff from accepting any advantage for doing any act which would cause 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 trio were not related to their duties and were unauthorised, the court heard.

The ICAC investigation arose from a corruption complaint. Pursuant to legal advice sought from the Department of Justice upon completion of the investigation, Lau, Kan and Lai were charged with multiple counts of bribery and obtaining access to computers with dishonest intent for disclosing Customers’ Particulars of about 4,700 customers. Lai earlier pleaded guilty to his charges and was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on November 17, 2022.

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

The prosecution was today represented ICAC officer Alvin Pang.

The ICAC reminds telecommunications industry practitioners that accepting advantages for disclosing customer data is a serious offence. The Commission will continue to assist telecommunications companies to strengthen their internal monitoring system and enhance the integrity standard of their staff for preventing corruption and malpractices:

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