Trio charged with illegal conduct of incurring election expenses at 2016 LegCo Election
Three persons, who were neither candidates nor election expense agents of any candidates of the 2016 Legislative Council (LegCo) General Election, were charged by the ICAC today (July 26) with engaging in illegal conduct at the election by incurring election expenses totalling over $253,000 for placing six advertisements in two newspapers.
The ICAC investigation arose from complaints alleging breaches of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance (ECICO). Upon legal advice sought from the Department of Justice, charges were preferred against Tai Yiu-ting, 57; Ip Kim-ching, 55; and Sek Sau-ching, 50.
The defendants jointly face four counts of engaging in illegal conduct at an election by incurring election expense, contrary to Section 23(1) of the ECICO. They will appear in the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts on Friday (July 30) for the case to be transferred to the District Court for plea.
The charges allege that Tai, Ip and Sek, not being candidates or election expense agents of any candidates, engaged in illegal conduct at the 2016 LegCo General Election held on September 4, 2016 by incurring, through The Eggs Alliance Company Limited (Eggs Alliance), election expenses totalling over $253,000 for placing six advertisements in Ming Pao Daily News (Ming Pao) and Apple Daily at or in connection with the election.
On various occasions before the election, Tai, via a radio programme, press conferences and social media, introduced to voters a voting scheme with a goal to have more than half of the elected members coming from a particular group by recruiting voters to cast their votes for particular candidates based on recommendations to be provided by the scheme. Advertisements promoting the goal and the scheme were placed in both Ming Pao and Apple Daily on August 9, September 2 and 4, 2016.
The ICAC investigation revealed that Eggs Alliance paid $133,540 for the three advertisements placed in Ming Pao and $120,000 for another three advertisements placed in Apple Daily. Ip and Sek were both directors of Eggs Alliance and authorised signatories of its bank account.
The Registration and Electoral Office has rendered full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation into the case.
Section 23(1) of the ECICO stipulates that it is an illegal conduct for a person, other than a candidate or a candidate’s election expense agent, to incur election expenses at or in connection with the election.
Any expenditure incurred for promoting or prejudicing the election of a particular candidate or particular candidates should be counted as election expenses. An ICAC spokesperson reminds members of the public that only a candidate or a person authorised in writing by a candidate as his election expense agent can incur election expenses.
The ICAC has launched education and publicity campaigns to remind candidates, election agents and voters to abide by the ECICO in the upcoming public elections. Through multifarious activities and reference materials, such as briefings, flash roadshows, advertisements, information booklets, videos, posters and leaflets, clean election messages are hammered home to election stakeholders. Candidates, election helpers and others are also reminded the legal requirements about incurring election expenses.