Ex-guesthouse operator charged by ICAC jailed for six months for bribery over tenancy agreement

2022-1-11


A former guesthouse operator, charged by the ICAC, was today (January 11) sentenced to six months’ imprisonment at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts for offering bribes in cash, travel packages and reimbursements worth totalling over $30,000 to an agent of his landlord to resolve tenancy matters.

Sze Ching-lok, 54, was earlier found guilty of two counts of offering an advantage to an agent, contrary to Section 9(2)(a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.

In sentencing, Magistrate Mr Jacky Ip Kai-leung said bribery was a serious offence which should not be tolerated, adding that imposing an immediate custodial sentence on the defendant was inevitable.

The court heard that in April 2013, the defendant rented a flat in Yaumatei for a fixed term tenancy of five and a half years for operating a guesthouse. The landlord was a couple and the younger brother of the wife was entrusted to handle its leasing matters. Before leasing out the flat, the brother had to seek instructions from his elder sister.

As the defendant did not make rental payments on time and had occasionally made payments in split sums by different bank accounts, the landlord subsequently decided not to renew the tenancy.

In early 2016, the defendant negotiated with a potential investor for transferring the guesthouse business while he himself would remain its manager. Since then, the defendant had been trying to terminate his tenancy so that the new operator could sign a new agreement with the landlord.

After negotiation, the landlord only agreed to lease the flat to the potential buyer on the condition that the defendant would no longer be involved in the guesthouse business.

On December 13, 2016, the defendant sought assistance from the younger brother in persuading his elder sister to accept the new tenancy unconditionally, and offered free travel packages and reimbursements which amounted up to several thousand dollars to the younger brother.

The court heard that the defendant reiterated the offer on several occasions in 2017 but the younger brother declined to accept it.

On June 9, 2017, the defendant further offered “tea money” of $30,000 to the younger brother for the same purpose. The offer was also declined.

The prosecution was today represented by prosecuting counsel Stephen Ma, assisted by ICAC officer Franki Law.
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