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 employed by the government or public hospitals managed by the Hospital Authority are public servants who must abide by the relevant provisions of the POBO, in particular Sections 4 and 5. Doctors employed by the government must further comply with Section 3 of the POBO and familiarise themselves with the Acceptance of Advantages (Chief Executive's Permission) Notice which sets out the rules governing solicitation and acceptance of advantages in the private capacity of government officers.
Section 4 (Bribery)
Section 4 of POBO aims to prevent public servants from abusing official authority for private gain and safeguarding the interests of public bodies and the community at large.
Section 5 (Bribery in relation to public contracts)
Section 5 of POBO aims to maintain fair play in the procurement of contracts with public bodies.
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.
Section 3 (Soliciting or accepting advantages without permission)
Section 3 of POBO aims to prevent government officers from falling into the "sweetening or softening up process" by accepting advantages and thereby rendering themselves vulnerable to subsequent corrupt approaches.
Common Law Offence of Misconduct in Public Office
Misconduct in public office (MIPO) is a common law offence which targets all forms of serious abuse of office by public officials.
The Court of Final Appeal has in previous court cases spelt out the key elements of the offence of MIPO. It was held that the offence would be committed where -
The misconduct must be deliberate rather than accidental in the sense that the public official either knows that his conduct is unlawful or wilfully disregards the risk that his conduct is unlawful. Wilful misconduct without reasonable excuse or justification is culpable.
A public official may commit MIPO even if his misconduct does not involve any bribery or he does not have any pecuniary gains as a result. The essential feature of the offence is an abuse by the public official of the powers, discretions or duties exercisable by virtue of his official position conferred on him for the public benefit.
- Any government officer convicted of an offence under Section 3 is subject to a maximum penalty of one year's imprisonment and a fine of $100,000.
- A person convicted of an offence under Section 4 or Section 9 of the POBO is subject to a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment and a fine of $500,000 while the maximum penalty of violating Section 5 is ten years' imprisonment and $500,000 fine.
- 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.
- A public officer convicted of MIPO is punishable under Section 101I(1) of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance (Chapter 221, Laws of Hong Kong), and is liable to a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment and a fine.