The chief telecommunications engineer of the Hong Kong police force has been given a suspended sentence for falsifying a document in order to receive housing benefits from the government.
The discovery was made during an integrity check whilst he was under consideration to become the undersecretary for information and technology in 2015. He was handed down a nine-month jail sentence on Thursday, suspended for two years.
Wong Chun-kau, 58, previously pleaded guilty to the crime. He claimed in a 1997 document that he was single and received, as a result, a downpayment loan and home financing allowances totalling over HK$1.9 million. Wong was married in the US in August 1994.
He also hid the fact that his wife had already received housing benefits from her work at HSBC.
His defence lawyer Senior Counsel Gerard McCoy previously said in mitigation that Wong surrendered himself to the police when the falsified document was found.
McCoy argued that Wong made significant contributions to the police force and to Hong Kong by designing a globally-renowned police communication system.
He said Wong – who has been suspended from his position – will likely lose HK$8.2 million in retirement payments as well as HK$50,000 in pension payments each month if he is removed from his post. But he added that Wong still decided to plead guilty in order to show genuine remorse.
Magistrate Cheung Kit-yee said senior officials who defrauded the government to receive housing loans and allowances normally deserved custodial sentences.
But the magistrate added that she meted out a suspended sentence to the defendant after taking into account his guilty plea, his full repayment made to the government, and other mitigating factors.
According to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which charged Wong, the case arose from a complaint referred by the government’s Treasury. Subsequent ICAC enquiries revealed the alleged offence.
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