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Integrity in Practice - A Practical Guide for Medical Practitioners on Corruption Prevention

Legal RequirementsLegal Requirements

The Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO) (Chapter 201, Laws of Hong Kong)

The POBO is the piece of legislation against corruption in Hong Kong to uphold a fair and corruption-free society and safeguard the legitimate interests of different stakeholders. The law governs corruption in both the public and the private sectors.

Doctors in private practice are required to observe Section 9 of the POBO.

Section 9 (Bribery)

Section 9 of the POBO aims to maintain fair play in the private sector and uphold market integrity.

It is an offence for an agent to solicit or accept an advantage when conducting his principal's affairs or business without the permission of his principal.
Any person who offers such an advantage is also guilty of an offence.

Section 9(3) (Use of false documents to deceive principal)

It is an offence for an agent to use any false document, receipt or account with intent to deceive his principal.
Principal - generally refers to an employer.
Agent - any person employed by or acting for another.
Advantage - refers to anything that is of value such as money, gift, loan, fee, reward, commission, office, employment, contract, service, favour, payment, release or discharge of loan or liability, etc., but does not include entertainment which is defined as the provision of food or drinks, for consumption on the occasion when it is provided, and of any other entertainment connected with or provided at the same time.
Principal's permission - It is lawful for an agent to accept an advantage in relation to his official duties with his principal's permission. Such permission must be sought before the advantage is solicited or accepted. If the advantage is accepted without prior permission, the agent must apply for his principal's retrospective approval as soon as possible. In private organisations, the principal's permission should best be in writing.
Custom constitutes no defence - According to Section 19 of the POBO, it shall not be a defence to claim that any advantage accepted or offered is customary in any profession, trade, vocation or calling. The court shall make the judgement based on whether permission has been given by the recipient's principal.
Agreement counts - According to Section 11 of the POBO, the offeror and the recipient of a bribe are liable to prosecution if an agreement of corruption is reached. Both parties will have breached the law irrespective of whether or not the purpose of bribery has been carried out.
Penalty - A person convicted of an offence under Section 9 of the POBO is subject to a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment and a fine of $500,000. He may also be prohibited from taking up a management post of any corporation or public body, or practising any profession for a period not exceeding seven years.
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