Plumbing subcontractor charged by ICAC jailed for $190,000 wage fraud
One of the two third-tier subcontractors of the construction projects of the Hong Kong Children’s Hospital and a private residential estate in Ma On Shan, charged by the ICAC, was today (January 18) sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment at the District Court after being convicted of defrauding second-tier subcontractors of wage payments by overstating daily wages of plumbers.
Chu Cheuk-wah, 59, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud, contrary to Common Law.
In sentencing, Deputy Judge Mr Caesar Lo Chi-lam said that the defendant coerced workers to pay illegal rebates to keep their employment, making them co-conspirators of crimes, and such misdeeds warranted a deterrent custodial sentence.
The offences took place between February 2017 and September 2018. At the material time, Kin Win Engineering Limited (Kin Win) and Onplus Plumbing Engineering Limited (Onplus) took part in two construction projects respectively involving the Hong Kong Children’s Hospital and a private residential estate in Ma On Shan as second-tier subcontractors. Kin Win and Onplus subcontracted the plumbing work of the two projects to the two defendants who were the third-tier subcontractors.
According to the subcontracting agreements, the two defendants were required to supply plumbers for the two projects and report the exact daily wages of the plumbers for wage calculation.
The court heard that the two defendants employed two plumbers and their respective daily wages stated in their contracts were $1,500 and $1,150. It is however agreed between the two defendants and the plumbers that their respective daily wages were only $900 and $850. In addition, the two defendants had asked the plumbers to return the wage difference to them after receiving their monthly wages from Kin Win and Onplus.
The ICAC investigation arose from a corruption complaint. Enquiries revealed that wages of the two plumbers were overstated by about $190,000.
Co-defendant Sze Kin-chung, 50, was charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud and six counts of fraud. He was unable to attend court due to his health condition. His case was adjourned to March 2 for plea.
The Hospital Authority, Kin Win and Onplus had rendered full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation into the case.
The prosecution was today represented by Senior Public Prosecutor Douglas Lau, assisted by ICAC officer Lai Yiu-wai.