54 arrested over HK$3m student loan scam

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2008, 12:00am

The corruption watchdog has arrested 54 people in the past three days allegedly involved in cheating the government out of HK$3 million in student loans.

Those arrested included five employees of a training institution and its founding company - two managers, a supervisor and two instructors, the Independent Commission Against Corruption said.

The ICAC said loans were obtained by bogus students recruited by the syndicate's masterminds, and the government was unable to get the money back because some of the borrowers' particulars were false.

Also arrested were seven alleged middlemen and 42 people suspected of posing as students or loan guarantors. They allegedly made fraudulent applications for loans under the Non-Means Tested Loan Scheme managed by the Student Financial Assistance Agency of the Education Bureau, the ICAC said.

It said the two managers were suspected of masterminding the scam by recruiting a number of bogus students through the middlemen to enrol in a management course, purportedly offered by the training institution with fees of HK$75,000.

Staff of the training institution allegedly helped process the loan applications submitted by the bogus students, falsifying course programmes and attendance records.

The suspects have been released on bail pending further investigation.

The graft-buster also alleged that some of the bogus students had applied for the HK$10,000 government subsidies under the Continuing Education Fund by falsely claiming that they had completed courses with three other training institutions.

The ICAC did not release the names of the institutions involved, but the Labour and Welfare Bureau said six Continuing Education Fund courses from the Accom Education Centre and Hong Kong St. Perth College had been suspended.