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Bribe for insider information

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Terry and Jenny were both health inspectors and had been assigned to the same team for quite some time.   Terry got promoted to the post of Chief Health Inspector in a remarkably short period of time.  Basking in the glory of his promotion, he treated his colleagues to a big feast to celebrate.  The party was held in a restaurant in Tsimshatsui and, as the guys cheered and toasted, the proprietress Suki came to know of the cause for the celebration.  Besides providing a complimentary fruit basket and free desserts, she also treated them to a free round of drinks.  Terry was pleased and soon began to patronise the place more often than he used to. Jenny tagged along too. Suki always had a warm welcome ready for them.


But one night, Suki seemed to be very distressed when Terry went for supper with Jenny. She told them that her chief chef had left recently.  This affected the business.  Worse still, those who stayed behind were very hard to manage. Because of them, she had received ten demerit points so far for contravening the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance. Five more demerits and suspension would follow.  But it was simply no use trying to force her staff to keep up with food hygiene.


“They would be the ruin of me one of these days” Suki whimpered. Terry asked how he could help.


This was the question Suki was waiting for.  She asked if Terry could try to gather information on when the next inspection of her restaurant would be so as to forewarn her.  Even though Terry did not work in the district, as Chief Health Inspector, Terry could have access to the schedules.  Or Jenny could get hold of some bits and pieces of information while meeting his colleagues at the health club.


Terry exchanged glances with Jenny.  Both knew what was in store for them if they were to be found leaking insider information.  While they were hesitating, Suki continued.


“The helping hand you offered would not go unrewarded.  In return for every tip-off, ten thousand dollars would be deposited into your bank account. That will give me time to look for better staff and on your side, you can have an extra few thousand dollars every month.”


“And I am sure quite a number of my friends in the restaurant business would be interested in the deal too.” Suki added.  “That should guarantee a handsome income.  Didn't you say you want to buy a flat, Terry?  Your down payment would be settled in no time.  The same applies to you too, Jenny.”


“I’ve got to talk this over with Jenny.  Give us some time.” Terry said. The two went on their way and discussed what to do.


Should Terry and Jenny give in to Suki’s request?

Case Analysis

In the case study, Suki the restaurant owner might violate Section 4(1) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO) because she, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, offered advantages (i.e. $10,000 for every tip-off) to Terry and Jenny (the public servants) as a reward for their assistance in leaking out confidential information on health inspections (i.e. an act in relation to the public servants’ capacity).


Terry and Jenny (the public servants) might violate Section 4(2) of the POBO if they accepted the advantages from Suki without lawful authority or reasonable excuse for leaking confidential information in their official capacity.

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