Duo charged by ICAC jailed for accepting illegal rebates from construction workers over Third Runway Project jobs
Two then employees of a sub-contractor of the Third Runway Project of the Hong Kong International Airport (Third Runway Project) were today (December 21) sentenced to jail terms up to six months at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts for accepting illegal rebates totalling $27,000 from five construction workers. The duo were among six charged by the ICAC for bribery in assisting construction workers to secure employment with the sub-contractor.
Hui Kwai-tuen, 38, then site team leader of MLife Engineering Limited (MEL), was jailed for six months, while Lin Weiwu, 51, then construction worker of MEL, was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment. Hui was also ordered to repay $27,000, equivalent to the amount of bribes involved, to MEL as a restitution.
In sentencing, Acting Chief Magistrate Mr Peter Law Tak-chuen remarked that the defendants had exploited fellow construction workers through accepting illegal rebates of quite a ratio of their daily wages. The offences were serious in nature and warranted immediate custodial sentences to serve as a deterrence to others.
Hui yesterday (December 20) pleaded guilty to six charges – two of agent accepting an advantage, contrary to Section 9(1)(a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO); and four of conspiracy for agent to accept advantages, contrary to Section 9(1)(a) of the POBO and Section 159A of the Crimes Ordinance. Lin yesterday pleaded guilty to one of the above conspiracy charges.
At the material time, MEL was a sub-contractor of the Third Runway Project responsible for recruiting construction workers to conduct various works. Recruitment was conducted mainly through referrals by construction workers. Hui led a team of construction workers, including Lin and Law Chun-yik, to perform carpentry works at the project’s construction site.
The court heard that Hui and Lin had respectively told two construction workers that they were required to pay $300 out of their $1,600 daily wage per working day as a rebate for keeping their employment. Between February and March 2021, Hui accepted through Lin or directly from the duo illegal rebates totalling $9,900 and $6,900 respectively.
In late 2020 and early 2021, Law introduced three other construction workers to work at the project’s construction site at a daily wage of $1,600. Law told the trio that they were required to pay $200 per working day as rebate to Hui. Between January and May 2021, the trio had paid illegal rebates totalling $10,200 through Law or directly to Hui.
The five construction workers believed that they would not have been employed by MEL or would be terminated by Hui if they did not pay the rebates.
Law, 37, earlier pleaded guilty to three of the above conspiracy charges, also appeared at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts this morning for mention. He was granted cash bail until January 11 next year for sentence, pending a community service order report.
Three other then site team leaders of MEL, charged in two other cases, have their cases adjourned to next year for plea and trial respectively.
The investigation arose from corruption complaints filed with the ICAC. The Airport Authority Hong Kong, the relevant main contractor SAPR JV and MEL had rendered full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation into the cases. ICAC enquiries are continuing and further arrests and prosecutions may be made.
For the court proceedings of Hui and Lin, the prosecution was today represented by Acting Senior Public Prosecutor Steven Liu Wai-hung, assisted by ICAC officer Lai Yiu-wai.
The ICAC calls upon contractors and sub-contractors to proactively adopt corruption prevention measures so as to prevent employees and agents from engaging in corrupt conduct in the recruitment of construction workers. The relevant measures include adopting a policy to prohibit employees and recruitment agents or service providers from soliciting and accepting referral fees from workers, paying for referral services of recruitment agents or service providers directly, enhancing transparency in workers’ payment or employment terms with written employment contracts, and using job-matching platforms such as the Construction Industry Council’s “easyJob” to recruit workers.
The ICAC has stepped up its efforts in promoting the “Don’t bribe for Jobs” message to frontline construction workers under the Ethics Promotion Programme for Construction Industry. Workers are reminded to abide by the law and report to the Commission immediately should they be asked to pay illegal rebates.