One more charged by ICAC jailed for soliciting and accepting bribes from construction workers over Third Runway Project jobs
One more then site team leader of a sub-contractor of the Third Runway Project of the Hong Kong International Airport (Third Runway Project) was today (January 4) sentenced to two months’ imprisonment at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts after admitting that he had solicited and accepted illegal rebates from two construction workers. The defendant was among six charged by the ICAC and the fourth to enter a guilty plea for bribery in assisting construction workers to secure employment with the sub-contractor.
He Chungui, 37, then site team leader of MLife Engineering Limited (MEL), pleaded guilty to two counts of agent soliciting an advantage, contrary to Section 9(1)(a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO); and one count of conspiracy for agent to accept advantages, contrary to Section 9(1)(a) of the POBO and Section 159A of the Crimes Ordinance.
In sentencing, Acting Chief Magistrate Mr Peter Law Tak-chuen said the case was serious in nature as it involved exploitation of workers’ hard-earned money. The defendant targeted specific workers in making solicitations, showing that he had premeditated the scam and did not commit the offences out of momentary greed.
The acting chief magistrate said he took a starting point of three months’ imprisonment for each count of offence and reduced the sentence to two months in view of the defendant’s guilty plea. The jail term on each count would run concurrently.
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. He led a team of construction workers to perform carpentry works at the project’s construction site.
The court heard that on two consecutive days in late December 2020, He respectively solicited illegal rebates of $100 per working day and $1,000 per month from a construction worker in his team. Although the construction worker did not accede to He’s solicitation, he believed that He had the authority to terminate him.
Upon his solicitation, He also accepted a total of $2,000 from another construction worker in his team after the latter returned to work in early 2021 following a long leave. The construction worker believed that He would terminate or suspend him from work if he did not pay the illegal rebates.
The investigation arose from corruption complaints filed with the ICAC. Following enforcement actions taken by the Commission last year, six persons, including He and three other then site team leaders, were charged with a total of 13 counts of bribery in three cases in October 2021.
One of the site team leaders Ngan Lun-fung, 52, who assisted He to accept illegal rebates but made no personal gain, jointly faced the above conspiracy charge. The prosecution today offered no evidence to the charge against Ngan.
Three other defendants earlier admitted their roles in the illegal rebates scams. Two of them were respectively jailed for six months and two months, and one of them will be sentenced next Tuesday (January 11).
The remaining defendant will face trial in February for allegedly accepting illegal rebates totalling about $40,000 from four construction workers.
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.
The prosecution was today represented by ICAC officer Danny Chan.
Construction workers are further reminded not to pay illegal rebate should they encounter any solicitation and to report the matter to the ICAC immediately.