Two former candidates in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) election are wanted by the city’s corruption watchdog for allegedly lodging false election returns and attempted fraud over poll-related expenses, the watchdog announced on Thursday.

A magistrate issued warrants for ex-district councillor Ben Lam, and for Sum Sung-sheung, who signed up on the same ticket for a LegCo election in 2020 which was later postponed. The pair are wanted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Ben Lam
Ben Lam. Photo: Ben Lam, via Facebook.

Lam and Sum, both aged 31, are accused of making a false declaration of election expenses totalling HK$68,000 for the pair.

The 2020 LegCo election was scheduled to take place on September 6 that year. However, on July 29 “information was spread” that the government would postpone it due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and that election expenses claimed by candidates would be reimbursed by the government, an ICAC statement said.

Lam – a democrat – and Sum submitted their nomination forms on July 31, and the government that night announced a postponement for a year.

According to the anti-corruption watchdog, the pair claimed that they bought four mobile phones, three laptops, four sets of software, three tablets, and two “relevant accessories,” as well as a TV set-top box.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption. File photo: Selina Cheng/HKFP.

The Registration and Electoral Office later found that the pair purchased some of the electronics on the same day that the government announced the postponement. The incident was referred to the corruption watchdog after the office refused to accept their explanation.

The ICAC said it found that electronic items amounting to around HK$50,000 were bought on the night after the government postponement was announced. Another HK$18,000 worth of products was purchased between August 7-10, but the invoices were backdated to July 31.

Warrants were issued for the pair as both had left Hong Kong.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.