Estate agent charged by ICAC with soliciting ‘tea money’ from flat owner for negotiating higher selling price
The ICAC today (June 28) charged an estate agent for allegedly soliciting a “tea money” of $9,000 from a flat owner for negotiating a higher selling price of the latter’s residential property at $4.568 million.
Yeung Tak-ming, 64, property agent of Centaline Property Agency Limited (Centaline Property), faces one count of agent soliciting an advantage, contrary to Section 9(1)(a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO). He was released on ICAC bail, pending his appearance in the Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Courts on Thursday (June 30) for plea.
Around April to May 2020, a flat owner engaged Centaline Property to sell his residential property in Tuen Mun. In early August, a potential buyer was arranged by the defendant to view the property but the offer did not meet the flat owner’s target. The flat owner subsequently told the defendant that $4.55 million was the lowest agreeable selling price. The property was eventually sold to the buyer at $4.568 million, which was $18,000 higher than the price required by the flat owner.
The charge alleges that on or about August 9, 2020, the defendant, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, solicited a “tea money” of $9,000 from the above flat owner, as an inducement to or reward for negotiating a higher selling price of the residential property.
The ICAC investigation, which arose from a corruption complaint, revealed that the flat owner did not pay any “tea money” to the defendant. Centaline Property has rendered full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation into the case.
Estate agents are reminded to refrain from soliciting and accepting illegal rewards from property owners and buyers in the course of procuring transactions to avoid breaching the POBO. Property owners and buyers should also report to the ICAC immediately if corruption is suspected.