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All Areas of Concern

Staff Supervision

CS068 (Case 132)
Trades / Industries:

In a construction project of a commercial complex valued over $500 million, the main contractor employed ten Foremen to monitor the work of sub-contractors.   A Site Engineer of the company, who took charge of the Foremen, was responsible for the overall supervision of the project.


The salaries of the Foremen and other workers were calculated on a daily basis.    Each  of  them  was  required  to  punch  an  attendance  card  when reporting on and off duty every day.   The attendance cards and the punching machine were placed in the Engineer’s office so that when the Foremen and other  staff  reported  on  or  off  duty,  they  had  to  punch  the  cards  in  the Engineer’s office.  The Engineer was responsible for ascertaining that his subordinates personally punched the cards.   At the beginning of each month, the Engineer was responsible for calculating the salaries of his subordinates based on their individual attendance records for the previous month.  His calculations and the punched cards were then sent to the Accounts Department of the company for processing salary payment.


As the family of one of the Foremen, CHAN, was in Mainland China, CHAN would seek every opportunity to go to the Mainland to see his family. One day, CHAN went to see the Engineer and requested for three days’ off. CHAN, however, requested the Engineer not to record his leave but instead punched the attendance card for him so as to show that he was working on the three days.   In return, CHAN offered the Engineer $500 for assisting him in punching the attendance card and turning a blind eye to his absence.


The Engineer turned down the offer and reported the matter to the ICAC. Eventually, CHAN was convicted for offering a bribe to the Engineer, contrary to Section 9 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO) and was sentenced to imprisonment.




  1. Has the Foreman committed any criminal offence?
  2. If the Engineer rejects the bribe but still assists the Foreman in falsifying attendance, has the Engineer committed any bribery offence?
  3. If the Engineer accepts the bribe from the Foreman for assisting him in forging attendance records, what would be the possible consequences to the Engineer?

Case Analysis

Section 9 of the Prevention of Bribery  Ordinance


The Foreman, CHAN, offered an advantage to the Engineer as a reward for assisting the former to falsify attendance records, contrary to Section 9 of the POBO.  Irrespective of whether the Engineer accepts or rejects the bribe, the act of offering (by CHAN) already constitutes a criminal offence.


Section 9 of the POBO states that:


  • It is an offence for an agent (normally an employee) to solicit or accept an advantage without the permission of his principal (normally the employer) when conducting his principal’s affairs or business; and
  • The person who offers the advantage also commits an offence.


In addition, if the Engineer rejected the bribe but assisted Chan in falsifying the attendance record, the Engineer would have committed an offence under Section 9(3) of the POBO.  This Section stipulates that it is an offence for an employee to use any false document, receipt or account to deceive his employer.


Serious Consequences


Should the Engineer have accepted the bribe, he would have committed a corruption offence and be charged under Section 9 of the Prevention of Bribery  Ordinance.     Improper  ethical  behaviour  may  also  lead  to  the revocation or suspension of a professional registration with a professional body and as a result the Engineer would be restricted/prohibited from practice. In the case of CHAN, the offering of a bribe is a serious offence and he would likely be given a custodial sentence.


Reporting Corruption


The action taken by the Engineer is a good example one should take when one is being offered a bribe.   If in the unfortunate event that you are offered a bribe, you should reject the offer and report the matter to the ICAC and senior management as soon as possible.

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