Jockey Club members raided in bribery probe

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2010, 12:00am

-graft officers raided the homes of at least two Jockey Club voting members in a bribery probe said to be related to applications to join the club.

The raids, which began at about 6.30am yesterday, were still going on last night but the Independent Commission Against Corruption declined to comment or reveal whether any arrest was made. The Jockey Club also declined to comment but a person familiar with the case said the alleged bribery was connected to membership applications.

The raids come four months after former Wheelock taipan and Jockey Club voting member John Terrence Hung was refused leave to appeal against a conviction for accepting an advantage to help with a membership application. He was jailed for two years in July last year.

A club spokeswoman said yesterday that it had worked with the ICAC to complete a review of the membership nomination process 'to make it clear to the applicants and voting members the importance of upholding integrity'.

'We have also informed voting members individually on their obligations and that it is not only against club rules but also against the law to accept any advantages.'

New racing-membership applicants must be proposed by one of the Jockey Club's voting members, and seconded by another. The application then goes through a security check and screening.

According to the club's website, proposers, seconders and supporting members must know their candidates well and be satisfied that the candidates are persons of integrity before agreeing to sponsor them.

Racing members have to pay an entrance fee of HK$68,000 and a monthly subscription of HK$420. Full members, who have additional privileges, pay a HK$250,000 admission fee and HK$1,000 a month.

Currently, the club has 13,640 full members and 7,670 racing members.

Hung pleaded not guilty to one count of soliciting an advantage and three of accepting an advantage totalling HK$450,000 from a middleman, Joseph Loong Shun-ming, in October 2006 as a reward for helping racing member Joanne Wong Pui to become a full member.

Hung claimed the money was a loan from Loong, whom he described as a friend, and not connected to Wong's membership bid. But Deputy Judge Anthony Kwok Kai-on said it would be an astonishing coincidence if the two things were not connected.

The judge said such behaviour deprived other candidates, who applied for full membership through proper channels, of an equal chance of selection. 'It was a serious breach of trust,' Kwok told Hung.

The ICAC received 2,634 reports of corruption in the first nine months of this year, compared with 2,520 for the same period last year - a 5 per cent increase. Reports involving public bodies rose 26 per cent from 143 to 180 for the respective periods.