Case Studies

Our case studies contain analysis and discussion points for users to better understand the legal provisions. They also provide suggestions on how to prevent corruption, fraud and malpractices.

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The Wealthy Restaurant Group (the Group) consisted of a chain of ten restaurants in Hong Kong.   The Director of the Group, CHENG, was highly experienced in the food and beverage business but had no knowledge about construction and engineering works.  Hence, he relied on the expertise of Engineer WONG when there were selections of construction and engineering contractors.


WONG was authorised to approve decoration and renovation works up to a value of $300,000 and those above $300,000 would require CHENG’s endorsement.     According  to  company  policy,  contracts  below  $300,000 should be let by quotation and those above $300,000 by way of tender. Contracts should then be awarded to the bidder who offered the most competitive price, irrespective of quotations or tenders.


In January 2000, WONG approached one of the contractors KWAN. WONG convinced KWAN to offer him a commission (5% of the contract price) in return for supplying KWAN with quotation information submitted by other bidders every time when there was a quotation exercise.   With the information, KWAN could always submit the lowest bid and be awarded the contract on every occasion. WONG also split contracts of $300,000 or above into two or more contracts to avoid CHENG’s involvement in the award.


As the Group had no internal audit section, the malpractice was not discovered.   During the period from January 2000 to December 2001, most renovation contracts of the Group totalling $10 million were awarded to KWAN and WONG received over half a million dollars as commission in return.


WONG and KWAN were later arrested by the ICAC and convicted of offering/accepting advantages, contrary to Section 9 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO).   They were each sentenced to imprisonment and WONG was also ordered by the court to return the illegal commission to the Group.


As a registered engineer, WONG was sanctioned by his professional institution and was removed from the membership list.




  1. Why were WONG and KWAN convicted of corruption offences?
  2. What measures should be taken to prevent malpractice in tendering?
  3. What can the management of the company do in order to prevent the splitting of orders?
  4. What is the possible consequence of corruption?


A Government Department (the Department) awarded a slope maintenance  contract  to  Chongs  Construction  Company  Ltd,  which  then sub-contracted the works to JKW Subcontracting Company (JKW), of which CHEUNG was the proprietor.


From time to time, the Department issued to the contractor works orders (WOs) describing the work required, location and estimated value of the work. Upon completion of work, an Inspector of Works (IoW) of the Department would physically inspect and verify whether the work done was in compliance with the required standard.   Based on the recommendation made by the IoW, the project engineer would approve payment to the contractor by signing on the WO concerned.   He was not required to physically inspect every piece of work completed as over a hundred WOs were issued every month.


When the engineer signed on the WO, the contractor could apply for payment by submitting the WO to the Accounting Section of the Department. A contractor could only apply for payment on completion of work as certified on the WO.


In conjunction with the payment process, the Quantity Surveying Section of the Department counter-checked the work of the contractor.   However, the Quantity Surveyors of the Section could only randomly check 10% of the WOs issued.   Both the project engineer and the quantity surveyors might therefore not be able to detect abuse in relation to the WOs.


YAU was an IoW of the Department responsible for overseeing the works carried out by JKW.   In March 2000, CHEUNG approached YAU and urged YAU to expedite the checking of WOs. Hence, CHEUNG could receive payment earlier.   In return, CHEUNG offered YAU a part-time job with $8,000 a month.


Between April 2000 and December 2001, YAU accepted a part-time job from CHEUNG as a reward for expediting the checking of WOs issued to CHEUNG.   On many occasions, YAU certified work completion on the WOs though the work concerned had not even commenced.


YAU and CHEUNG were later arrested by the ICAC and were found guilty of offences under Section 4 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO).   Both YAU and CHEUNG were sentenced to imprisonment.




  1. How did YAU and CHEUNG violate Section 4 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance?
  1. Besides the offer of a part-time job, what else can be classified as an“advantage”?
  1. What should be watched out for in site supervision to prevent malpractice?

In January 2001, Lee & Wong Holdings Ltd (LW) awarded a $1,000 million contract to a main contractor for constructing four 40-storey residential blocks, a commercial complex and a car park.   The main contractor then sub-contracted  the  piling  work  to  another  company.    The  latter  in  turn awarded the work to Saar Piling Company Ltd (Saar) by simply deducting 15% of his original successful bid.  LW also appointed a consultant firm Joe & Partners (JP) to oversee the construction work.   The project was scheduled to be completed in twenty months and five months were allowed for the piling works.


JP deployed an engineer as the Project Manager (PM) to oversee the project but he was not required to be resident on site.   Occasionally, he would go to the site for meetings but did not carry out site inspections himself. Routine site inspection was left to an Assistant Inspector of Works (AIoW) and a Works Supervisor (WS) who were resident site staff appointed by JP. However, the AIoW had very limited experience in piling work.


As there were only two supervisory staff on site responsible for overseeing the whole piling works, the AIoW and the WS found it difficult to check every detail during the work process.  They could only rely on the records of Saar and sign the completion forms taking the face value without checking.


Due to unexpected difficulty encountered during the placing of reinforcement casings, LAM, Director of Saar, found that the piling work was behind schedule and a one-month delay was anticipated.   Saar, being a small sub-contracting company, found it difficult to bear possible substantial liquidated damage (LD) of $800,000 per day as stipulated under the main contract.


LAM then discussed the making of shortened piles with the foreman and site agent of the main contractor, who were always away from work and thus failed to monitor the work progress.  They thought that the specifications stipulated in the contract were conservative and shortened piles should cause no severe harm to the completed buildings resting on top of the piles.   They believed that the buildings would not be structurally affected.


LAM instructed his workers not to excavate the pile bores as deep as the proposed founding levels.   Instead, after the length of the reinforcement casings had been checked by the supervisory staff of JP, LAM asked his workers to cut the casings during night time when the consultant site supervisory staff were off duty.   LAM then manipulated a measuring tape by removing parts of its central portion so that it gave a reading longer than the actual measurement.   When the supervisory staff of JP measured the pile bore depth using the manipulated measuring tape provided and re-examined the reinforcement casing, they were not able to detect that the piles had been shortened.


One day, the WS of JP discovered that the length of the constructed piles did not match with the concrete delivery records for the piles.   He suspected that some of the piles might have been shortened.   He immediately approached LAM for an explanation for the irregularities discovered and the proposals for remedial actions.


LAM, after discussion with the foreman and site agent, went to the WS’s office to hand him an envelope containing $300,000 and plead him to turn a blind eye to the substandard piling works.   The WS immediately refused LAM’s request.


The WS immediately  reported LAM’s  offering of bribes to the ICAC. LAM, the site foreman and site agent of the main contractor were arrested and convicted of conspiracy to offer an advantage to the WS as a reward for turning a blind eye on substandard piling work.




  1. Why were LAM, the foreman and site agent convicted of corruption offences? What actions should you take when being offered bribes?
  2. How devastating would the damages be if a construction professional accepts advantages for turning a blind eye to substandard works? What are the consequences of such behaviour?
  3. What is the importance of site supervision at a construction site?

The CEO of a pharmaceutical company offered company shares to Dr A for his assistance in writing a favorable report for a new drug…

Shortly after starting his private practice, Dr C was approached by Ms WONG, the proprietor of a medical laboratory, who requested for the referral of all his patients to her.   Ms WONG suggested that an arrangement could be made for a sum to be offered to Dr C by the laboratory for each patient referred.   She emphasised that it was in no way unfair to the patients since they had to do the tests somewhere in any case. She also said that a number of other doctors in the same building had already made such arrangement with her.


Prior  to  the  referral  of  patients  to  Ms  WONG‘s  laboratory, their agreement was brought to light by the nurse of Dr C’s clinic and the case was then reported to the ICAC.

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